To Society Treasurers and class reps
On Tuesday evening, there is a meeting of both the CSC, and, seperately, the Student’s Union Council. At these meetings, it is hoped, a matter regarding the Capitations Committee will be discussed: namely, that Committee’s terms of reference, which contain a provision for the Senior Dean to seize student publications when he deems it necessary to do so.
The onus is on the editorial staff of this paper to implore the student representatives on these representative bodies to oppose this amendment with any and all power they have. There are enough student votes to oppose this measure, but only if those representatives are mandated by their members to do so.
Most of the discussion on these changes had centred on weighty issues of law and liability for many weeks. Yet it is only in the last few weeks that anyone has begun to ask whether it is right to grant an individual the right to seize and, we can assume, destroy, copies of printed material they disagree with.
It is not right. It has happened before, yes, but failure by previous editors of certain student publications to defend their right to free speech does not constitute an endorsement of blatant censorship. Nowhere is it written that this power exists already, though some of its proponents would have us believe so.
It is not in the Statutes, nor the calendar, nor in the disciplinary code approved by Board.
It is not in line with the law, nor the code of conduct of the Press Council.
It is not in line with the constitution of this country, which is by no means soft on censorship itself. To have the college police its own court is farcical.
The reality is that many individuals in college believe that student apathy will allow them to bring about any change they wish. This particular item was first placed on the agenda for a meeting of the Capitations Committee less than 24 hours before its scheduled start, and no student representative had seen or heard about it before that time. It had been drawn up by three senior staff behind closed doors. For that reason, student representatives were unwilling to pass it then and there, and the issue never went to a vote.
This paper believes little has changed since then. Should this power be formally granted to the Dean in coming weeks, let us commit to record that many opposed it, and it fell to student representatives of the Central Societies Committee and Student’s Union to defend the right to free speech. We hope that they rise to the occassion.
Library staff have their story too
Two weeks ago, the students of Trinity received an e-mail from Jessie Kurtz, the deputy librarian, informing us of widespread disruption to library services, for example, the cutting of hours in early printed books and the fact that certain desk services “may be affected by staff absences.” These cuts are attributed to the ban on recruitment, “which has resulted in the non-filling of 11 full-time permanent posts.”
Interestingly, though, an hour before the arrival of this e-mail in the inboxes of the student body, a SIPTU representative in the library contacted Trinity News with an opinion piece, outlining the history of the current staffing dispute in the library (which can be read on page 16 of this issue).
This type of contribution is always welcome, as students are often quick to lay blame for any cuts or unwelcome changes to student services at the foot of the amorphous entity that is “college.” Yet in this case, as in many others, there is a much more subtle interplay of vested interests at work, and an overly simplistic view of the dispute is unfair. Whether one agrees with the stance of the trade union or not on this issue, the onus is on those who would complain to familiarise themselves with the distinction between seperate interested parties. It is not impossible that many participants in the Student’s Union “Save the Library” campaign who have complained so vehemently about the library, and in some cases its staff, would also broadly be in favour of a unionised workforce which staunchly opposed pay cuts and the enforcement of working hours outside those agreed.
This is not and should not be taken as an endorsement of SIPTU’s cause. A full library service is essential to the student body, and any disruption to that can only be a bad thing. Rather, we encourage the reader to acknowledge that employment disputes are always complicated, and to inform themselves fully of the facts. The collective staff are as much a part of this university as the student body, and are just as numerous and diverse in their opinions and actions. And informed opinions are always the best kind to hold.