Last week, students condemned Trinity’s decision to demolish the biochemistry building and Robert’s Laboratory at the end of the semester – a typically stressful time, made far worse by demolition noise. Students labelled the decision “selfish and inconsiderate”, arguing that noise had made the Hamilton library “a place not conducive to effective studying”.
A large group of students depend on the Hamilton library as the only place they can access books in their field, and more still see it as their primary study space.
So it was a kick in the teeth for them that the College – undoubtedly bound by planning restrictions and sensitive time frames – failed to even consult them on a move that has clearly had a large effect on their ability to study effectively.
While the demolitions are ultimately a necessity – they’re occurring to make way for the construction of College’s new Engineering, Energy and Emerging Technologies (E3) Institute – their timing has come to symbolise College’s lack of regard for a cohort on the east end of campus that have persistently raised concerns of being underrepresented at many levels of College life.
It is remarkably negligent on Trinity’s part that affected students were not involved in discussions until it was too late: while one student has been added to the key stakeholders’ group in order to receive updates on the demolition, this move served mainly to highlight the irony of students not being considered key stakeholders in the first place.
It was an oversight symbolic of a College strategy that prioritised capital projects over the people it exists to educate.
Were a similar demolition project undertaken in the vicinity of the Arts Block and its adjoining libraries, it’s safe to say that Trinity would be left in little doubt about the ire of affected students. With packed timetables, it’s harder for Hamilton students to make their frustrations known, and you don’t have to be a great cynic to suggest that Trinity’s decision-makers would have been aware at some level that it’s easier to slip these moves by busier students.
For students in the Hamilton, their involvement in demolition discussions is a concession that offers too little, and came too late.