Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) President László Molnárfi has said that housing will be a “huge priority” for the union’s leadership as he begins his term today.
As well as running its accommodation advisory service, Molnárfi told Trinity News that the union intends to deepen cooperation with Community Action Tenants Union (CATU) as well as establishing a Housing Justice Officer.
He added that TCDSU will explore the possibility of direct action, pointing to the success of protests, occupations and rent strikes in the UK.
Earlier this year, a rent strike by students in the University of Manchester saw more than 350 students collectively withhold more than £2m in rent. In 2020, Manchester students won a 30% reduction in fees in their first term, sparking the “biggest wave of university rent strikes in four decades” as students in over 20 universities followed suit.
Molnárfi also said that the students’ union will “stop the practice of aligning ourselves with senior management and the government”, and instead align itself with students, staff and trade unions.
“What this means is getting rid of illusions. Senior management, and the government, have economic incentives to disregard our voices, and so we have to put up a fight to get what we want, be this for affordable housing, lower fees or more funding for our wellbeing services.”
“The student union is powerless without a mass basis. I urge students to get involved in the student movement, and to support and put pressure on the student union.”
TCDSU’s six full time sabbatical officers officially enter their roles today for a year-long term.
Catherine Arnold, who takes over from Zoë Cummins as Education Officer, told Trinity News they are “excited to get going”.
“The team are a group of fantastic, enthusiastic and competent [people] and I can’t wait to get stuck in,” they said.
Plans in their manifesto include a student-led online Erasmus information portal, previously suggested by outgoing Education Officer Cummins, and “an academic and welfare senate” to replace the current Education and Welfare Committees.
Incoming Welfare Officer Aoife Bennett explained that she plans to prioritise “visibility”, ensuring that students are aware of the welfare services and supports in College.
She also stressed the importance of “being on the ground” and “establishing more of a connection with off-campus students and being more present” in places such as St. James’.
Olivia Orr takes over from Max Lynch as Ents Officer.
The outgoing Ents Treasurer outlined her plans “to keep fighting for a T-Ball on campus” and said that ensuring “all events are as safe and inclusive as possible” will be a main priority during her time in office.
She added that she is “most looking forward to collaborating with all students through a suggestion form” which would allow her to organise events throughout the year that will appeal to everyone.
Aiesha Wong takes over the role of Communications and Marketing Officer from Julie Smirnova.
Wong told Trinity News she is “excited to continue working with the SU’s current partnerships, as well as expanding out into more collaborations with other brands and third parties”.
She also said she plans to focus on student engagement in TCDSU.
“I’m already working with pre-existing staff here in Trinity to develop strategies that will encourage current and incoming students to be more involved with the SU and see it as a tool that works for them,” she said.