The organisers of this month’s protests at the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) have urged Trinity class reps to pursue direct action against college management following the passing of new and increased student charges last week.
Speaking at tonight’s meeting of the Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) Council, Eimear Walshe and Niamh Moriarty, two leaders of the recent NCAD occupation, advised Trinity students to “identify other people willing to take action.”
The NCAD speakers recommended that class reps monitor press reports and committee minutes relating to college management, and keep up to date with other student protests.
Students should also ignore “hierarchical coummunication structures” in issuing their demands, they said.
They suggested that reps organise direct action focusing on issues affecting both students and staff, and seek the support of alumni as well as academics.
“Don’t be violent; don’t do anything illegal; don’t damage property,” they said. “If you do, people in power will use it to undermine your campaign.”
The majority of class reps at tonight’s meeting, when asked by the president of TCDSU to raise their hands if they would take part in some form of direct action, demonstrated their support for a protest against student charges.
Tonight’s discussion took place in the context of the College Board’s passing of new and increased charges last week.
A raft of charge increases – projected to raise in the region of €800,000 – had been proposed by College last June as a response to the shortfall in funding from other revenue sources.
Several concessions – including the dropping of the proposal for a supplementals charge of €250 and the introduction of a means-tested exemption from the fees for degree commencement and diploma and certificate ceremonies, as well as the student card replacement charge – were achieved earlier this month following lobbying by student representatives.
However, the rest of the proposed charges – including the €75 fee for diploma or certificate ceremonies and €20 charge for replacement student cards, as well as an increase in the application fee for prospective postgraduate and non-EU students from €50 to €55 – were approved at a meeting of the College Board on March 25th.
The proposed increase in the charge for duplicate parchments from €100 to €105 has also remained.
Speaking to Trinity News before the charges’ approval last week, the incoming president of TCDSU, Lynn Ruane, said she would look to some form of direct action if they were passed.
The two speakers at tonight’s meeting were among the NCAD protesters who occupied the college’s boardroom on March 24th after NCAD director Declan McGonagle failed to meet with students who had raised concerns about student numbers and charges.
Among the demands issued by the group in an open letter to Mr McGonagle were calls for evidence that student charges had gone towards studio and material costs, a reversal of inflated postgraduate fees and extra resources to reflect the increase in first-year student numbers.