In the past couple of weeks, two highly respected and vocal members of the College community have moved out of positions in which they were able to draw attention to things that deserved to be addressed.
Prof Peter Coxon, who resigned from the College Board three years before his term was due to expire, was known for telling Geography students to take action against the College, and was one of the more vocal members on the College Board. And the College Board needs vocal members. In May, several non-student Board members, and many of the student representatives on the Board, complained about how the Provost was treating people, and how he was chairing the Board. One said they were treated with such “disrespect” that they no longer had respect for the way the College is being run. Another said the Board was “barely functional”. Until then, you would have been forgiven for having no idea that there were problems on the Board.
Prof Eoin O’Dell, meanwhile, is no longer Chair of the Fellows – a key College position which represents the interests of Trinity’s senior academics. Along with the fact that the Fellows’ Standing Committee meets with the Provost before every College Board meeting, it’s safe to say that when the Fellows get angry about something, they are listened to. For instance, they are one of the primary reasons that the College’s disastrous rebranding attempt in 2014 – known as the identity initiative – was refocused, going back to square one. O’Dell was the man behind this move, along with many other behind-the-scenes things that have kept the College on the right track.
The University Times does a lot of talking about “holding College to account”. With Coxon and O’Dell in these positions, our job was made just that bit easier, as they did the things we try to do, but from the inside and with significantly greater sway. While their replacements certainly aren’t helpless or impotent when it comes to doing likewise, Trinity has lost two valued people from positions in which they could at least try to effect change.