Campaign group Cut the Rent TCD placed a mock eviction notice outside Provost Patrick Prendergast’s house on campus in a protest against the rising cost of rent in College-operated student accommodation, with the posters swifty removed by security.
The group also placed a similar notice outside the offices of the Trinity Accommodation Service in Front Square.
The mock eviction notice levelled several criticisms against College, including a “failure to provide affordable accommodation services to students” the prioritising of “monetary interests over student interests” and “gross negligence of student welfare”.
The notice offered an ultimatum to the Provost to either quit or deliver a cut to rent prices of college accommodation worth €13 million.
Around thirty students gathered in the rain under the Campanile at 1pm before marching to the buildings with chants of “No way, we won’t pay”, and “Paddy, Paddy, Paddy, out, out, out”.
Speaking to the crowd, Cut the Rent TCD member Xavier Bradley said: “We’re going to send a message today that we’re organized and we’re going to show resistance.”
Gathering on Grafton Street outside the Provost’s house, protesters chanted “Paddy in your ivory tower, this is called student power”. As the fake eviction notice was posted on the gate, one member called: “Paddy, you have three days to cut the rent or we are formally evicting you from the premises.”
As the protest ended, a security guard approached the group and told leaders that the posters would need to be taken down. Members temporarily formed a chain to block his access, but the posters were quickly taken down and returned to the protesters.
In a statement released alongside the protest action, the group has set out its demands. They are calling for an immediate reversal of 2019 rent increases, the establishment of a bursary to subsidise accommodation costs for disadvantaged students and for students with disabilities, and an investment into improving and expanding student accommodation that is suitable for people with disabilities.
The group has also demanded recognition of students living in college accommodation as full tenants and recognition for a student renters’ union, with elected representatives.
Speaking to Trinity News, Conchúir Ó Ráidaigh, one of the group’s leading organisers said that today’s protest action is “about announcing our presence to the Provost and the College, to make sure they know we’re unhappy, that they’re aware of our demands and that they see we mean business”.
The Cut the Rent group was established in early October and has called for students in Trinity Hall and on-campus accommodation to take part in a rent strike whereby they would withhold the second installment of this year’s rent unless the group’s demands are met
Today’s protest was publicised in advance on the group’s Facebook page as an unspecified “flash action”. Students met under the campanile, as encouraged by the Facebook event, at 1pm this afternoon before taking part in the protest.
The statement from the group says that “the deficit of student beds and crisis in student accommodation have not been addressed by the government or by third level institutions” and that “many young people are locked out of education altogether, while others struggle to meet the costs of fees, rent and life in Dublin; skipping classes and losing sleep to work or taking on debt just to get by.”
They also take aim at purpose-built accommodation complexes which they describe as “totally unaffordable” and say have done nothing more than “further enrich wealthy developers and investors”.
The group added that over the past month they have been canvassing students in on-campus accommodation and have been “heartened” by the support that they have received.
Last week, Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) Council voted against a motion which would have mandated the union to support the group.