If it’s probably fair to say that Trinity’s top officials haven’t exactly placed students front and centre over the years, then there is an extent to which College has recognised the power of students in recent times, and dialled back – slightly – its antagonism.
But the events of last week – when The University Times revealed Trinity is considering a four per cent rent increase on its student accommodation – show clearly that Trinity is still perfectly capable of acting contrary to the interests of students. The most obvious question is: how could College be so tone deaf?
It’s scarcely four months since a group of activists threatened to launch an all-out rent strike on campus, and while Cut the Rent ultimately petered out, this rent increase is exactly the kind that could reignite it. The mood in the air is not one of passive acceptance, yet still Trinity feels confident enough to table rent hikes for campus rooms that are already prohibitively expensive.
Ahead of next month’s meeting of Finance Committee, when the increase will come up for discussion, students must show College the folly of its complacency. Backed this time by Trinity College Students’ Union President Laura Beston – who this week warned the union will do “whatever we must” to prevent the increases – students must restart the engine on accommodation protests.
To be clear: if this proposal gets approval at Finance, students of the imminent future will find it even more difficult than those already here to afford campus rooms. Trinity will have directly contributed to the inaccessibility of higher education, and students will suffer.
So it’s incumbent on students to do as Beston says – to seize the moment and show Trinity they won’t stand for another hike to the price of their accommodation. This, in terms of activism, could – and should – be the straw that finally broke the camel’s back in terms of creating the conditions for a campus revolt.
While students looking to move on campus next year might have the strongest motives to take action, thousands of students have been directly affected by sky-high College rent. Now is the time to take a stand against it.