A secret protest planned by Trinity College Students’ Union (TCDSU) has been cancelled as a result of the extended library opening hours announced today. The sit-in was due to take place on Saturday in the BLU Library in protest against funding cuts to the capitated bodies.
In a statement on the invite-only Facebook event page set up to plan the action, Tom Lenihan, SU President, said the sit-in would no longer be appropriate as a result of today’s announcement.
“The library have been in contact with us and we are happy to announce that in response to ongoing lobbying and the persistence of everyone in voicing our anger at the status quo,” he said. “If you want to hit [the Provost] where it hurts it does not make sense for us to stage a sit-in in the library given that we have just announced longer opening hours.”
The action had been billed on the Facebook page as a “mass library sit-in” aimed at preventing the library from closing until as late as possible.
Its event description read: “It is time for us to take a stand against a university that has skewed their priorities and locked out students from decision making processes. We do not want €3.71m being spent on consultants or €100,000 being thrown at a rebranding exercise. Students want services and supports. It is time to stop the suffocation of student life.”
191 students had confirmed their planned attendance at the protest, though there was debate on the page as to where it would take place, with some students arguing against it being located in the Berkeley.
Despite the cancellation, Lenihan reserved strong criticism for Provost Patrick Prendergast on the page.
He said: “There has been outrageous waste of money despite students paying more in fees, there has been rampant exploitation and commodification of students and there remains no adequate forum for a student to voice these concerns to the Provost. When he was looking for votes he put in his manifesto that he would meet student representatives once a month. It never happened. Instead he cut student services and spent money on vanity projects, a botched rebranding and IT systems that fail to work. To put this waste in context, the previous provost spent on average roughly €700,000 in consultancy fees per year. Last year alone the current provost spent €3.71 million on consultants to tell him how to his job. It’s time he listened to students. He has declined to meet with heads of societies, sports clubs, publications, SU and GSU.”
In a recent interview with Trinity News, Lenihan claimed that Prendergast refused to meet with the heads of the five capitated bodies to discuss cuts to their funding, and that he had suggested a meeting with Vice-Provost Linda Hogan instead.
TCDSU, the Central Societies Committee (CSC), the Graduate Students Union (GSU), Dublin University Central Athletic Club (DUCAC), and Trinity Publications all face a cut of 3.75% next year following a decision made in June by the secretive College Planning Group, which has been tasked with rebranding Trinity and developing a strategic plan to attract international students.
At the time of writing, Lenihan had not responded to a query from Trinity News about whether any alternative form of action is likely to take place. However, in the past hour, he has been questioned on the event page about whether “the sabbats intend to work out some way for those of us hurt by other cuts to student services to express this with our union’s support in the immediate future”.
Other students suggested their own alternatives.