A representative group for Trinity students living in rental accommodation has been established, aiming to secure concessions from College on accommodation.
Trinity College Dublin Renters’ Union (TCDRU) states on its social media that it aims to “give a voice to all student renters” and “support students to stand up for themselves” and has begun signing up members.
The group’s Instagram and Twitter pages are calling for a 25% rent reduction in Trinity accommodation for the current academic year and a 10% permanent cut, alongside students being permitted to leave their Trinity accommodation without financial penalty until the end of the pandemic.
TCDRU are also calling for a guarantee of immunity from disciplinary action for any student engaging in protests or rent strikes. The group also aims to include Trinity students living in private rental accommodation, unaffiliated with College.
Liam Kiernan, speaking to Trinity News on behalf of TCDRU, said that the group was inspired by similar organisations in the UK.
“We saw all the rent strikes happening in Manchester, Liverpool, Cambridge, and figured it was time to get started here,” Kiernan stated.
Though Kiernan himself serves as chairperson of Trinity’s branch of Ógra Shinn Féin, he noted that the group was not tied to any political party, and includes “people from Sinn Féin, Labour, Greens, ex-Greens – it’s a broad group”.
While the group’s list of aims includes rent reductions for the current academic year, Kiernan said that they do not currently have plans for protest action in the coming semester.
“At the moment it is really short notice and due to the way Trinity’s finances are set up, we can’t really organise a rent strike for January.”
But he emphasised that the group planned to organise such strikes in future: “A rent strike is the main way you actually win those demands. It’s basically our reason for being.”
TCDRU also aims to link up with students in other colleges in order to represent students living in private accommodation.
“I have been in contact with people from UCD, DCU,” added Kiernan. “But mainly we want to link in with CATU and encourage people to join their local CATU branch.”
Community Action Tenants Union (CATU) is a representative organisation for tenants in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Though TCDRU aims to write a constitution and secure its existence over the coming years, the group does not plan to seek official recognition from Trinity.
Kiernan continued: “We absolutely see ourselves as independent from College.”
“We’ll not be seeking endorsement from CSC as we’re not a society in any sense of the word.”
The group is also not affiliated with Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU).
“We haven’t really discussed anything [with TCDSU],” Kiernan explained. “If they’d like to get on board with us, endorse us, we’d be happy to take that, but we haven’t really explored that possibility.”
Cut the Rent TCD, a separate group that aimed to organise a rent strike last year, sought and eventually secured a declaration of support from TCDSU. The group held several protests on campus during the 2019/20 academic year but did not succeed in organising a rent strike. In October, a spokesperson told Trinity News the group was also not planning a strike for 2020/21.