Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) has voted to support students taking part in rent strikes organised by activist group Cut the Rent.
After rejecting a similar motion brought to last month’s council, the union tonight voted to formally adopt a stance opposing rent increases on campus, which will include actively promoting and participating in canvassing students who live on campus to withhold their rent in January.
Speaking at council tonight, Michael McGrath, a member of the group, said: “Campus rents are unaffordable for students. They were unaffordable last year and the year before that and the year before that.”
The rents, he said, “will continute to rise unless met with substantial student resistance. This issue must be tackled now as it has spun out of control”.
TCDSU Education Officer Niamh McCay spoke in favour of the motion, pointing out that Cut the Rent had “taken on board” the thoughts of the union.
“What they have brought back is what I think a really solid motion, and I encourage you to support it”, she said.
Asked how this motion was different to a previous version rejected by council, McGrath said that the new motion removed its call for the union to protect students in the case of disciplinary action.
The motion came after TCDSU controversially voted against supporting a similar motion, which stated that support for the motion would “protecting student activists in the case of disciplinary action”.
The motion that was passed tonight calls for council to “adopt a formal, committed stance in support of the Cut the Rent movement. This support will involve active participation in the campaign and standing with CTR members.”
The motion was proposed by Ollie Pilkington, the fourth-year European studies class representative, and was seconded by Martin Doolan, the second-year social studies class representative.
Last week, the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) voted to support rent strike campaigns set up to protest the cost of student accommodation in Ireland.
The motion was passed without objection at USI’s national council, after a lengthy discussion that saw student leaders from around the country beginning to explore the finer points of what a rent strike might look like.
The union voted to support students engaging in activism that would show colleges that students are “not only valid, but we’re a threat”.
Cut the Rent was established in September in response to widespread hikes in the cost of student accommodation, after reports over the summer that every college in the country had raised the price of its student accommodation for the year.
Trinity received an income of €13 million from its student accommodation in 2018. Earlier this year, The University Times reported that less than seven per cent of purpose-built student accommodation developed in Dublin since 2016 is available for less than €840 per month.
Earlier this month, members of Cut the Rent taped a mock eviction notice to the Provost’s House and the Accommodation Office. The notice gave Provost Patrick Prendergast and the Accommodation Office a “three-day notice to cut rent or quit”.