Campaign groups plan protest against College’s handling of reopening

The organisers describe the demonstration as “against Trinity management’s incompetence and miscommunication”

Several student organisations are planning a protest next Wednesday, September 22 to demand more face-to-face teaching in Trinity this semester and refunds for students whose teaching is partially or mostly online.

Trinity College Dublin Campaign for F2F Teaching (TCD F2F) and Students4Change (S4C), two recently-established campaign groups with some overlap in membership, have made posts on their social media calling for a protest to take place next at 5pm on the steps of the Dining Hall “against Trinity management’s incompetence and miscommunication”.

Trinity College Dublin Renters’ Union is also part of organising the protest.

In a planning document for the protest seen by Trinity News, the organisations stated: “If we delay the protest to see if things will change until Reading Week, student interest will dwindle and this opportunity to make change will be lost.”

“Experience shows that the College cares about profit, not students, and there is no indication that this issue is any different,” the document added.

A number of other organisations were listed in the document as participants or potential participants, including Labour Youth and “other political societies like PBP and non-political like kayaking and canoeing”. Trinity Labour confirmed to Trinity News that it was “fully backing” the protest.

The groups first announced the planned protest at a town hall meeting held by Trinity College Dublin’s Students Union (TCDSU) this afternoon to discuss issues students have had with returning to in-person teaching. TCDSU and the other students present were invited to take part in the event.

The protest was announced in this manner so that “no one will be distracted from radical politics by the inherently less radical structure of the town hall,” according to the document.

“This protest will be a general outcry against the state of things, everyone brings their own grievance,” it continued.

“It is further proposed that we add a demand of a full refund of the student contribution fee from last year…and free repeats for those who failed last year”

The document said on the issue of the student contribution that  “TCDSU is mandated to support this”.

TCDSU also plan on supporting the protest next Wednesday.

Speaking to Trinity News on Saturday evening, TCDSU President Leah Keogh said: “TCDSU welcome grass roots initiatives and will be attending the protest on Wednesday to both support and hear from students on the ground.”

Trinity College Dublin’s Graduate Student Union (TCDGSU) also plans on supporting the protest.

Speaking to Trinity News, President Gisèle Scanlon stated: “TCDGSU respects and engages deeply with grass roots movements and will stand in solidarity with TCDSU and attend the protest on Wednesday to understand and hear from our postgraduate members.”

The protest is to include speeches by organisers, and the groups are also calling on students to boycott all online lectures the day of the protest.

A petition criticising College’s approach to reopening, which was launched last week, will then be delivered to Provost Linda Doyle.

This would be the first protest to take place in Trinity since the beginning of the pandemic, with many students disgruntled by College’s handling of the return to campus.

Additional reporting by Kate Henshaw.

This article was updated at 12:15pm on September 18 to reflect confirmation from Trinity College Dublin Renters’ Union that the organisation is helping to organise the protest.

This article was updated again on September 18 at 9:21pm, to include a statement from TCDSU President Leah Keogh. 

This article was updated again on September 20 at 7:53pm to include confirmation that the GSU will be attending the protest, alongside a comment from GSU President Gisèle Scanlon.

Jack Kennedy

Jack Kennedy is the Editor-in-chief of the 68th edition of Trinity News. He is a Computer & Electronic Engineering graduate, and a former Assistant Editor, Online Editor, and Deputy Online Editor.

Shannon Connolly

Shannon Connolly is the current Deputy Editor of Trinity News, and a Junior Sophister student of English Literature and Philosophy. She previously served as News Editor and Assistant News Editor.