When a group of angry students blockaded Front Arch this week, it may have left some nostalgic for the heady days of Take Back Trinity, the landmark protests against supplemental fees that shook campus back in March 2018.
One fundamental point of departure this time round, however, was that Trinity had already acquiesced to the protestors’ demands before a single chant was uttered. The students’ placards urged a stop to a proposed rent hike of four per cent – an increase that the College had already promised to scrap the night before the protest took place.
At first glance, it was a strange sight – and one might have assumed that the protestors had, rather embarrassingly, simply missed the memo.
This, of course, was not the case. It was a conscious, and arguably very sensible, decision on the part of Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) President Laura Beston to proceed with the action.
As Beston rightly pointed out in an email to The University Times, the College’s pledge to shelve rent increases was merely a temporary concession.
Once the College caught wind of the fierce opposition to rent hikes – and the bad PR headed its way – it abandoned the proposal. But the news came with no guarantee that a similar increase wouldn’t be tabled again in the near future – in fact, the College explicitly admitted that this was very likely. And, like in most colleges, it can be relatively hassle-free to sneak in such changes over the summer, when students are less engaged and unlikely to cause a fuss.
That the protests went ahead in spite of the imminent increases being deserted should send a clear message to the College: that students won’t be appeased by short-term promises.
The turnout for the blockade may not have been enormous, but the protestors’ noisy appearance at Trinity’s most visible location was certainly enough to cause a splash. TCDSU proved itself to be on the ball and proactive in fighting these unjustifiable hikes – let’s just hope the momentum continues.