The number of students who have signed up to be mentors to incoming freshers in College’s Student2Student (S2S) programme has this year risen for the first time in four years.
619 students signed up to be mentors for the 2020/21 academic year, compared to the 566 who volunteered during the previous year.
S2S programme officer Orlágh Morris has attributed the rise to students wanting to help first years transition to Trinity “as it became clear that this would be a year like no other”.
Speaking to Trinity News, Morris said that “this year in the training room we noted many students saying they had signed up because their mentors were helpful, and they enjoyed the programme as first years”.
This year’s training for mentors had to be paused, as concerns about Covid-19 grew in the early part of the year, before being “repackaged” in a way that could be delivered entirely online.
Morris noted that while she did notice “some students withdrawing from the programme as they felt anxious and overwhelmed with the coming year”, that “as online training began, we noted a rise in students saying they wanted to become S2S mentors”.
In previous years the number of students signing up for the S2S programme has been declining. For the 2016/17 academic year 842 students signed up, in 2017/18 there were 695 mentors, 647 in 2018/19, and then 566 in 2019/20.
The decrease in numbers was attributed to students having to take on part-time work, as well as commute longer distances to get into College.
S2S is a student-led initiative aimed at providing information and support to new students. The service offers mentors to every incoming undergraduate honours degree student and visiting student in College. S2S invites all undergraduates who have completed at least one year in Trinity to sign up as mentors.
Our target is to have 15 students in each mentor group, with each mentor group including at least two mentors. However, as S2S matches mentors to specific courses and there are some courses with a higher sign-up of mentors, while other courses have fewer mentors signing up and so a higher ratio of students to mentors.
During last year’s Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) sabbatical officer elections, then candidate, now education officer, Megan O’Connor outlined an ambitious plan to introduce a buddy system. This would be similar to the system of S2S mentors for first year students, for students from all years, which would see students paired with a student in the year above them from their particular course.
The buddy system was O’Connor’s headline policy and she said that she hoped to work with the people who currently run S2S in order to make it happen.