You could be forgiven for raising an eyebrow in disbelief when Provost Patrick Prendergast says he has a vision for Trinity as a “residential university”. Speaking to The University Times two years ago, Prendergast reminisced about his own time in Botany Bay in the mid-1980s and asserted the importance of having student residences on campus. While there is nothing fundamentally wrong with Prendergast’s vision, the College has simply not made it easy for students to access these rooms, either financially or otherwise. With a less-than-transparent application system, extortionate prices and a lease that doesn’t last the entirety of term, his vision is more a dream than a reality.
In early May, The University Times reported that a proportion of students had been left angered by a shift in the way administrators filtered applications for on campus rooms. Despite asking students to write a personal essay on their contribution to College – essays that had previously been used to gauge your suitability for an on-campus room – the accommodation office decided to use a random number generator instead. Your place was based on luck and little else. The fact that they chose to make the announcement mid-exam season, at a time of heightened stress and emotion anyway, didn’t help their cause.
Students were then left further disgruntled when, alongside a yearly increase in the price of living on campus, it was announced that their move in date would be September 5th – the middle of freshers’ week. Considering that most people who apply to live on campus are heavily involved in College life, it seems baffling to set the move-in date three days into one of the busiest weeks of the year. Luckily, removal van hire from Compare The Man & Van are on hand to make the move in logistics as straightforward as possible. Trinity is famed for its society culture, as it should be. If the College wants the heads of these societies, sports clubs and various other activities to be present to welcome the hoards of freshers who turn up on those first few days, it would make sense to make life easier for them and set the move-in date at the end of the prior week.
Considering that most people who apply to live on campus are heavily involved in College life, it seems baffling to set the move-in date three days into one of the busiest weeks of the year
This isn’t even a new policy for Trinity. For years, the middle of freshers’ week has been marked as the day for all students to move on campus. Not only this but, up until this year, students were expected to vacate their rooms or pay per night during the exam season. For an institution that prides itself on its academic prowess, it is farcical to expect students to move out in the middle of their exams. As has already been pointed out, the majority of those who will take up rooms on campus are in final year, so are undertaking exams worth anything from 50 to 100 per cent of their final grade. The last thing they need is the mental and financial pressure of moving out or finding the money to pay per night.
Luckily, due to the changes in the academic timetable under the Trinity Education Project, this year’s students won’t have to contend with this particular barrier. However, the issue of the midweek move-in does remain. Trinity isn’t completely without heart though. For a mere €30 a night, you can nab your room early. Simply fill out a quick form, list your academic reasons for moving in and away you go. Apparently paying over €7,000 for a basic apartment isn’t enough. For just under €100 extra, you can get your room before the start of freshers’ week.
Asking students to move out early and in late, while charging them astronomical prices, is not acceptable
It is no secret that universities are in the middle of a funding crisis. Rather than raising rents even more – as the College tried to do in May of this year – it is a clever solution to rent campus rooms to tourists during the summer. It’s a money-making scheme that benefits everyone involved. I don’t think anyone would begrudge them this opportunity. However, asking students to move out early and in late, while charging them astronomical prices, is not acceptable. Especially when it is to accommodate the people that are guests to our campus, not the residential community that the Provost envisioned.
The Provost’s view of Trinity as a residential university is noble and, if it were true, would be a great indicator of the College’s commitment to students, especially in the middle of a housing crisis. The sad truth, however, is that Trinity cares little for its student residents.