In a year defined by widespread activism and typical Trinity mistakes, Trinity News is taking a look at the most read news stories of 2018.
January started with complaints made by students sitting Schols exams after numerous errors, and by the Aramark Off Our Campus campaign after then-TCDSU President Kevin Keane met with the head of Aramark without informing the campaign. Meanwhile, representation in the TCDSU sabbatical elections came under fire as the candidates were announced, with just two female candidates and two uncontested races.
The controversy surrounding Nigel Farage’s visit to the Hist took centre-stage again, as the committee defended the former UKIP leader’s visit. Honorary Hist members penned a letter urging the committee to withdraw the invite, while a “fake” page turned out to be behind a popular anti-Farage protest event. Farage eventually made his appearance at the GMB on February 2.
February marked the tumultuous TCDSU sabbatical officer elections where Sean Ryan, a candidate running for SU President, dropped out of the race following allegations of sexual harassment, with Trinity News’ editorial on the incident the most read article of the month. Despite a campaign to encourage students to vote for the Re-Open Nominations (RON) option, Shane De Ris was elected as TCDSU President on the third count.
In addition, an alternative Arabic teacher was offered to students following Dr Ali Selim’s comments on female genital mutilation (FGM), while the “Beast from the East” shut College for a number of days, with some society trips left stranded abroad.
The Take Back Trinity protests swept through College in March following the Board’s decision to introduce a €450 flat fee for supplemental exams, culminating in a three day occupation of the Dining Hall, where Trinity received furious criticism for locking protestors in the hall without access to bathrooms. Following a PR statement that Trinity welcomed the “wind down” of the protest after the occupiers left the Dining Hall, the group shut down the Book of Kells the following day, an action they had previously undertaken earlier in the month. Eventually, the College decided against introducing the fee.
Students voted for TCDSU to support BDS, and against allowing its members to leave the union. Oisín Vince Coulter was also elected President of the Graduate Students’ Union, following a campaign of radical promises.
Our April Fool’s story on the Provost received the highest engagement of the month, while Prendergast’s later claims about student media publishing false stories also raised eyebrows. 73 scholars were announced, while tens of thousands read an anonymous student’s account of her abortion, and Rory O’Sullivan’s article on Katie Ascough and the pro-life movement.
May was the month of Repeal as Trinity students responded to a Yes vote in the referendum on the Eighth Amendment after sustained canvassing by TCDSU and the GSU. Prior to this, travel bursaries were made available for Irish students in UK universities to return home to vote. 400 NUIG students also demonstrated against a €1,000 rent increase in the Cúirt na Coiribe accommodation complex.
Hillary Clinton received an honorary degree from Trinity in the midst of protest in June, while Trinity fell to 104th place in the QS rankings, a fall of 16 places. Trinity Social Democrats announced that they would be no longer operating as a College society, while Trinity revealed a €974,781 loss to an email fraud incident.
July was an unusually busy month in College news, as Trinity News broke the story of Provost Patrick Prendergast’s contentious visit to Israel. Anger arose as College appeared to break the deal agreed after the Take Back Trinity protests, before reversing the decision to increase fees for continuing postgraduate and non-EU undergraduate students four days later.
In August, it was announced that €1,440 per month student beds were to open in Point Village, while it was revealed that College will spend €170,000 on wine over the next two years. A fees complaint against Trinity was upheld by the Ombudsman, while Muireann McGlynn wrote a popular comment piece on the controversy surround the University Times’ acceptance of advertising payment from luxury student accommodation complexes.
The Take Back the City protests that had been a feature of the summer escalated as protesters continued to occupy more houses, and a Trinity student was injured in the eviction of a North Frederick Street property. 70.6% of students voted in favour of a Tobacco Free Trinity, Provost Patrick Prendergast appeared as a hologram, and the Phil came under fire for a debate on Western feminism in the Middle East, and Malala Yousafzai’s disputed appearance.
An anonymous contributor outlined what it’s like coming from an abusive home, while Alice Whelan dispelled the apparent loss of free speech. Trinity Collidge founder Michael McDermott published his first Trinity News Agony Aunt column. Trinity News also outlined its new design and vision as we entered our 65th year of publishing.
In October, the controversy surrounding the use of “Fresh” to describe first and second year students continued, as it emerged that the change breaches the College statutes. There was widespread criticism of the use of the n-word in a Phil debate, while DCU student Shepherd Machaya’s deportation order was extended following an extensive campaign.
Notable comment pieces on systemic privilege, and attending Trinity from an underrepresented area were popular, as was Patrick McDonagh’s piece on Peter Casey’s race-baiting in the Presidential election campaign. Jessie Dolliver explored implicit misogyny, while Laura Beston discussed what being sober in college entails.
In November, it was revealed that four out of Trinity’s five capitated bodies recorded a deficit, with TCDSU having the highest figure at €70,000. The issue of unpaid Erasmus grants was covered, with many students still left without at the end of the month. Meanwhile, Nina Nesbitt mistakenly announced her Trinity Ball appearance, and a Features piece on Trinity’s continued outsourcing of security garnered considerable engagement.
The first year of Christmas exams was not without issues, as over 1,000 students were affected by a delay of over an hour and a half, following incorrect exam papers being handed out in the RDS. The closing of the Long Stone pub after 264 years, and a eulogy to Lemon, Sprout, Mooch, Tiger, and Spar on Dawson Street furthered saddened students, while an article on the top crying spots on campus possibly helped as a coping mechanism.
Meanwhile, 4,000 signatures were gathered in a growing campaign against unpaid work placements undertaken by Pharmacy students. Dr Sean Barrett was announced as Trinity’s new Pro-Chancellor, while Trinity’s senator seats are to be eliminated in new reforms of the Seanad.