The four star Carlton Hotel played host to the Students’ Union recently, when they took over an entire hotel for their annual “Class Rep Training” weekend at a cost of some €15,000. The hotel didn’t come away unscathed, however, with one student throwing a table off a balcony on the top floor, and with several rooms, corridors and lifts coated with beer and foam from fire extinguishers.
Those present said they had “one big party” with 250 students, the only guests at the hotel, five miles north of Trinity. The bill for damages is still being negotiated between the Union and the hotel, two weeks later. The bill was originally rumoured to be nearly €3,000; however the Union dispute this, saying that it should come to much less, though it has yet to be finalised. The hotel has refused to comment, except to confirm there was damage.
Class reps were elected for every class in Trinity at the start of term, and “form the backbone of the Students’ Union”. During the annual “Training Weekend” the reps are treated to a series of talks such as “Supporting Student Welfare”, “Organising Class Parties” and “Negotiation Tactics” from Union Officers and invited guest speakers. The weekend is also “a great bonding experience where reps get to know each other and the Union Officers so that the Union can effectively function with enthusiastic reps,” said Education Officer Ashley Cooke.
One student told Trinity News a “raucous” party took off in the evening with “everyone getting shitfaced” in the 120-room hotel until “things started to die off at 5am or so”. The night culminated in one student in an Ents-crew t-shirt chucking a table off a balcony on the third floor.
The charges also include beer-stains on carpets and wallpaper and several fire extinguishers which got let off in rooms, corridors and lifts. One hotel staff member said it was “like a bomb went off”, and a manager acknowledged there “was some damage done alright” but declined to comment further. Nevertheless the Union has stated all is good with the hotel and that “hotel management have told us that they would welcome the Students’ Union to hold any events it runs in the future”.
The Union said it knows who was responsible and is also talking to them with “a view to recuperating any financial loss suffered by the Students’ Union as a result of their actions”. Cooke said that “when any large group of students go away there will inevitably be some ‘acting-up’ by a small few. There were some incidents involving fire extinguishers but no major damage was done to the hotel. We brought over 200 students away and little disruption was caused to the hotel or its staff.”
One student said class reps signed disclaimer forms whereby they would agree to pay for any damage inflicted. The student told Trinity News the Union knows who is responsible but can’t prove them culpable, which would leave the Union to foot the bill.
The Students’ Union is funded mostly through a grant from the compulsory registration fee of approximately €320,000. This is supplemented through income from Ents nights, sponsorship and services such as selling Student Travelcards. While figures from last year are not yet available, figures from 2007/08 indicate the Union had a net income of approximately €400,000 that year. Cooke said some of the funding for the weekend will come from sponsorship and College, though that has yet to be finalised.