Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) has announced the opening of a number of new student spaces across campus this semester, including one in the former Bank of Ireland branch in the Hamilton building and two in New Square and Botany Bay where marquees are currently being set up.
In a press statement, TCDSU said that it had worked with the College to open the new spaces so that students had somewhere to socialise, attend online lectures in between face-to-face lectures, and to host society events.
“As we’ve learned in the past few months”, it said, “many rooms on campus are not compatible with social distancing guidelines, however these extra spaces announced today will hopefully offset those losses”.
Each space will have to be booked in advance by students and will be available for 45 minute slots. The spaces will be cleaned professionally every morning by college staff and there will be a 15-minute gap between bookings to allow for cleaning.
TCDSU is working with College to develop the former Bank of Ireland branch in the Hamilton Building “into a welcoming and accessible student space”. The space was vacated by the bank in August, after it ended its years-long partnership with Trinity.
TCDSU said that it expects to be able to accommodate 430-480 students per hour across all of the student spaces.
“These spaces will function from 9am to 6pm with the purpose of providing students on campus a place for respite, and to eat in between face-to-face lectures. These spaces can also be used for students to attend online lecturers in between face-to-face lectures.”
They will also be made available to societies “so that they can host limited attendance, socially distant, society events”, it added.
Each space will have €1 coffees, hot water and microwaves available for use.
Jobs will be made available to students – who will be trained by Catering staff and provided with PPE by the College – to supervise the spaces.
Due to coronavirus restrictions, a number of smaller student spaces will not be available at the start of term, including the TCDSU kitchen in House Six.
The Dining Hall will be open as a student space during its opening hours, while the Zón Mac Leinn in the Buttery Vaults will be available when the Buttery and Dining Hall close.
The Goldsmith Lobby and Junior Common Room, the TBSI knowledge exchange, the Bullnose outside the tercentenary hall and the Old Stone Building in St James’ Hospital will remain open as student spaces.
In a statement to The University Times, TCDSU President Eoin Hand said that he was “delighted to see this proposal pass today”.
“We’ve been working closely with a lot of college staff for the past few weeks to ensure these student spaces as functional and safe as possible. I’m especially excited to provide free hot water, €1 coffees, microwaves, and jobs for students in these financially uncertain times. A massive thank you to my team, the GSU, and colleagues in College for all their help!”
In an email statement to The University Times, Gisèle Scanlon, president of the Graduate Students’ Union, said that it’s “great to have secured these extra spaces as a very important resource for students”.
“I hope that it will be helpful to every postgraduate student and bring a more rewarding student experience to the year ahead”, she added.
Before opening the Bank of Ireland branch in 2016, the College had used the space as a restaurant. At the time, Adrian Neilan, formerly Trinity’s Commercial Director, highlighted that the restaurant “was never designed as a catering location” and incurred an operating loss in 2015. It “has been underutilised as a student breakout space”, he said.