By now, life as we know it is well on the way towards changing beyond recognition, as the coronavirus sows chaos in almost every sector of Irish society.
But for Trinity students – particularly from abroad – living in College accommodation, the situation took an extreme turn for the worse last night, when they were told they had 48 hours to vacate their student homes, “until further notice”.
Trinity’s decision to give its student residents so little notice is hard to fathom.
Nobody is under any illusions about the scale of the challenge facing the country, but unless College is in on a secret the rest of us aren’t privy to, ejecting students into the middle of a global pandemic is hardly a responsible reaction.
For international students, the move gives them less than two days to pack up their lives and find a flight home, with some likely to face mandatory state quarantine on their return home. This will be a reality for some students, because of Trinity’s actions.
And Irish students, while not as badly affected, have even less time: in less than eight hours, they’re expected to have upped, left – and sorted out somewhere to go.
The implications of Trinity’s decision are enormous. Yes, most students may already have moved out of their accommodation and yes, College has a responsibility to manage the spread of the coronavirus – but these facts do not free it from its duty of care to those still living in its accommodation.
While College will argue that its accommodation is an ominous breeding ground for the virus, the same could be said for any of Dublin’s thousands of apartment complexes. They can’t kick people out of their homes, yet in Trinity it’s deemed to be the correct decision.
The fundamental point here, though, is that Trinity is evicting people from their homes – en masse. There are few landlords who would – or could, legally – treat their tenants so badly and with seemingly total impunity.
By instructing students to leave, Trinity is knowingly throwing them to the winds at a time when they most need security.