Comment & Analysis
Oct 3, 2018

Students Must Take Action to End the Housing Crisis

Without action, the housing crisis will worsen, writes Shane De Rís.

Shane De RísOp-Ed Contributor
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Alana O'Sullivan for The University Times

Today’s student demonstration may be a march for housing and accommodation, but it is also so much more than that. It’s a cry of anger and frustration from a generation that is experiencing an Ireland of neglect and abuse.

In Trinity, we see first hand the harsh realities of the housing crisis both within our College and on its doorsteps. Nobody, student or otherwise, is immune to the violence witnessed daily, as families are forced onto the streets, homeless men and women huddle in doorways, children sleep in Garda stations.

Students too face these very issues and are not immune to the most vicious consequences of this crisis. Each day, the student victims of this crisis sit in their lecture theatres, anonymous, a weight on their shoulders, a sleeping bag in their locker, trying to hide their fatigue and worries. We owe it to them to stand up and take action today.

We owe it to the student parent currently awaiting an impending eviction notice. We owe it to the second-year student couch surfing because they can’t afford a month’s rent. We owe it to the students staying in hostels, those being extorted in private student accommodation, those living in terrible conditions and those commuting hours each day. We owe it to ourselves to make sure we’re not forgotten, that we’re heard, that our anger becomes action.

Students and young people today are part of a generation caught up in a crisis of uncertainty and insecurity. We are a generation that faces the prospect of permanent transience, poised to go from job to job, house to house, country to country. The traditional arrangement enjoyed by our parents’ generation of a job for life, settled home, and the ability to plan for a future beyond the year-long lease is a pipe dream for a generation at risk.

We cannot let the #EducationIs campaign, which fought vociferously against any form of student loans, and succeeded, be sidelined. Education is still in the red, a shade turned more crimson by the housing crisis

The housing crisis has put the already dire future of education in this country in danger. Students are being denied access to education by a housing market gone wild. Already crippled by the second highest fees in the EU, miserly maintenance grants, and crumbling higher education infrastructure: the lack of appropriate, affordable housing may just be the straw that broke the camel’s back for Irish students. Already applications to study in our congested cities have dropped dramatically, with Trinity seeing an eight per cent decline. Without action this will only worsen. We cannot let the #EducationIs campaign, which fought vociferously against any form of student loans, and succeeded, be sidelined. Education is still in the red, a shade turned more crimson by the housing crisis. Today we must bring the #EducationIs campaign with us to the streets once again, alongside #RaiseTheRoof and #StudentLockout.

None of the issues plaguing Irish society today are happening in isolation. They are the symptoms of a system that is not fit for purpose. A system that has left students, the vulnerable, the working-class, and those at risk behind.

It’s up to us to turn our frustration and anger into action, to demand and fight for the society we want to achieve, one in which nobody gets left behind.


Shane De Rís is the President of Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union.

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