Dublin City University (DCU) students were protesting rental increases of purpose-built student accommodation in the Glasnevin area today, joined by several Trinity students.
Shanowen Square, adjacent to the DCU Glasnevin campus, have increased their rent for next year by 27%. Students can stay in the accommodation complex for eight months, from September 10 to May 25, meaning the cost of rent for the full academic year will increase by €1,850, to €8,695. Shanowen Halls have also increased their rental price, by just over 23.5%. Both accommodation complexes also require a €400 non-refundable deposit.
Led by DCUSU President Niall Behan, students protested at Shanowen Square this afternoon. Some brought sleeping bags, while others held signs and banners stating “Housing is a Human Right,” “We’re Not Cash Cows” and “Stop Pricing Students Out of College”.
In a statement on their Facebook page, Dublin City University Students’ Union (DCUSU) said: “The administration has failed completely to engage with students on this issue. That is completely unacceptable.” Students have been expressing their outrage at the rental increases online under the hashtag #ShanowenShakedown.
Several Trinity students were among the protesters at Shanowen Square. Gus Culbertson, a Take Back Trinity campaigner and attendee of today’s protest, said that he was there to “show solidarity with the students at DCU”.
“We fought hard in Trinity and have shown that students united have the power to change the policies and the world,” he said. “I went along to DCU in the hopes that as they rise up and succeed against the commercialization of universities around Ireland that eventually we can make serious change at the national level. It starts here in Dublin with Trinity, UCD, DCU, soon the rest of Ireland at the very least.”
Almost 15,000 people have signed a petition against the rental increases. The petition states that “year after year students are exploited by landlords with overpriced, substandard accommodation,” arguing that renters are “taking advantage of the current state of the rental market, preying on students and their parents who are desperate to secure accommodation for the upcoming year”.
The petition calls on Minister of Education and Skills Richard Bruton and Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy “to work with universities and their Unions to create more sustainable, affordable accommodation and to stop landlords from exploiting legal loopholes, allowing them to charge whatever they wish to students”.