Trinity profits from the housing crisis

Trinity’s apathy towards the rent crisis is palpable

It seems like a truism to reiterate that we are living through one of the worst homelessness and rental crisis Ireland has ever seen, particularly as the current government does not seem to be making any progress. 10,448 people are homeless, while in the Dáil, one in four TDs are landlords. Describing the homelessness problem as a crisis feels like an understated version of the astronomical and outright ridiculous quotidian situation that faces the nation. 

 

Governmental indifferences, like failing to set rent caps, to provide enough social housing, and Eoghan Murphy’s pitiful lack of sensitivity towards the situation have set the trend for the rest of Ireland’s landlords and private property developers. The average rent in Ireland as it stands is a staggering €1,391 a month. Students and young people often bear the brunt of this as accommodation, a basic necessity, has transformed into an unaffordable luxury. Unsurprisingly, Trinity seems to share in the government’s apathetic attitude to housing.

“Living on campus as a student in Trinity is considered a luxury, with the average rent of living on campus at a disgraceful average of €806 per month.”

Even the whole process of applying for Trinity accommodation is made to feel somewhat like a luxury. If you are lucky enough to be “selected” to live on either premises, there is a sense of superiority attached. Many students build up a portfolio of impressive “extracurriculars” before applying to live on campus and Dartry Halls: when I applied, I was advised to list my achievements to be considered for a spot amongst other freshers. The lack of transparency surrounding how Trinity actively selects students to live in college accommodation confuses things further.

Despite this rigorous process, there were still students from Dublin living in Halls in first year.  It is understandable that many first years seek a shared Halls experience and a sense of community, but there’s a big difference between a two hour daily commute and a 30 minute commute on the DART. Unfortunately, some students don’t have a choice and rely heavily on the accommodation Trinity provides and recommends. International students, for example, and those with disabilities who rely on Trinity to provide appropriate accommodation, are both exploited by Trinity’s negation to provide affordable accommodation.

 

Looking beyond on-campus and Dartry Halls, Trinity’s endorsement of extortionate student accommodations, Binary Hub and Kavanaugh Court, is somewhat questionable. For all the luxury and money entailed in the tenancies, it doesn’t guarantee safety; lest we forget the woman who was stabbed and beaten outside Binary Hub over the summer.

“Semesterisation and TEP reform mean that the summer period has been extended, which, for Trinity, who rent out campus accommodation to tourists over the summer, means larger profits.”

The average rent per night on campus for a Trinity student is roughly €26, and has been increasingly steadily over the last number of years, despite their additional summer revenue intake. It begs the question as to where Trinity’s interests really lie when it comes to the housing crisis.

Many students, past and present, speak about the experience of living in one or the other tenancies as a wonderful and defining experience of their time at Trinity. Does this “experience” really excuse the ridiculous cost of accommodation?

“There is a failure to recognise that students are not obliged to simply settle for the extortionate rent rates that Trinity charges.”

As illustrated by Take Back Trinity, the only way students have seen radical change is by radical action and activism, which is exactly what the Cut the Rent movement is trying to achieve. But why haven’t they had the same engagement as Take Back Trinity?

One might argue that TEP is partly to blame, and that students’ timetables are already crammed with study, extracurriculars and part-time jobs. The initial hesitant attitude of the SU towards the campaign certainly played a role. With the upcoming SU election, it will be important to note the candidates that place student housing at the heart of their campaigns and manifestos when voting. What Trinity, and Ireland, needs is someone unselfish who empathises with the disaffected population, and who can lead them effectively out of this miserable and hopeless housing crisis.

Dearbháil Kent

Dearbháil Kent is a Deputy Comment Editor of Trinity News, and a Junior Sophister Latin and Philosophy student.