TCDSU and JCR concerned by “claims of harshness” in Halls disciplinary hearings

TCDSU and JCR are asking students who are struggling with Covid-19 restrictions in Halls to reach out for support if they need it

The Junior Common Room (JCR) and Trinity College Dublin’s Students’ Union (TCDSU) have said they are concerned about “claims of harshness” in the implementation of Covid-19 restrictions in student accommodation.

The two groups have released joint communication to Trinity Hall (Halls) residents regarding recent concerns raised about fines that have been issued to residents.

Students living in Halls have been given fines and, in at least one case, evicted for breaching Covid-19 restrictions, which the union and JCR have said are by-products of “disincentive breaches of public health guidelines”.

In their statement, TCDSU and JCR recognised the “immense challenges this year poses for residents in College Accommodation”.

However, the union and JCR emphasised that students “have a responsibility to adhere to public health guidelines” which have “curtailed many of the activities that make Trinity Hall so vibrant”. 

Last week, students shared their concerns about conditions Halls residents have been experiencing to Trinity College Dublin’s Renters Union (TCDRU). Some students said they feel “terrorized” by the strict measures taken by Halls in response to Covid-19 social distancing requirements. 

TCDSU and the JCR said in a communication to residents: “We all must take personal responsibility to ensure that our actions and attitudes do not  pose a threat to the Halls Community. We also recognise that the restrictions themselves are having an  adverse effect on student wellbeing across the board.”

The communication continued that “unfortunately, the imposition of fines and possible evictions” are a result of breaches to the public health advice.

The communication said: “We urge anyone who has been threatened with eviction to reach out to the SU and the JCR.”

“We are concerned about the claims of harshness in disciplinary hearings and we are actively following up  with the Warden’s team and the Junior Dean to ensure that all student cases are handled fairly.”

The groups said that College, the JCR Committee and the Trinity Hall Warden Team have made “active efforts to communicate the rules and regulations for Halls and a clear list of all offences and penalties has been circulated by the Warden on numerous occasions”.

The Trinity Hall staff is made up on the warden, several assistant wardens, accommodation staff, RSAs and Noonan Security staff.

In a statement to Trinity News, the JCR and TCDSU described that they would like to remind students that they can “end their lease for Trinity Accommodation without incurring any fine or notice period charges”. 

“We would encourage you to make the decision that best suits your circumstances,” continued the statement. 

The JCR is hosting a virtual town hall meeting on Thursday, February 4 for students to express any concerns, and they have encouraged students who are “experiencing any issues” to attend. 

The statement concluded with a message to students that “together, we can work to keep everyone safe this Hilary term”.  

Last week, students shared their concerns about conditions Halls residents have been experiencing to Trinity College Dublin’s Renters Union (TCDRU). Some students said they felt upset or disappointed by strict disciplinary measures taken by Halls in response to Covid-19 social distancing requirements. 

One student said that they were given a €100 fine and asked to write “an essay about the importance of rules”. It has also been alleged that international students have been threatened with being “sent back” to their home countries. 

Speaking to Trinity News, a spokesperson for College said that Trinity has “been able to keep Trinity Hall continuously open as a student residence even in the context of a global pandemic because we know that for some students, it is home”.

“We are proud of the fact, especially when surveying outbreaks at other halls of residence around the world, that we have so far managed to avoid a Covid-19 outbreak at Trinity Hall,” the spokesperson said.

“This success is in large part due to the students who continue to make significant sacrifices to stick to their apartment bubbles and do the hard work of social distancing, wearing masks, and washing their hands,” they said.

“The Covid-19 environment, and the Government’s Level 5 restrictions have meant Trinity Hall residents have had – since Semester 1 – to follow stricter rules of conduct than normal to keep themselves and the community safe.” 

“We are now in a situation of even greater transmission risk regarding Covid-19 than we were last yearThere have been more than 1,000 deaths from Covid-19 and 100,000 cases in January, more than for the whole of 2020. Lives are at stake. We need to ensure that everyone showsrespect for Level 5 rules and Hall rules, which we will continue to apply as fairly and consistently as possible.” 

This article was updated on 2 February 2021 to include a statement from College.

This article was updated on  February 2021 to define the staffing structure of Trinity Hall.

Shannon Connolly

Shannon Connolly is the Editor-in-Chief of the 69th volume Trinity News, and a Senior Sophister student of English Literature and Philosophy. She previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.