Letters October 19th 2010

Iss – services whoM exactly?

Madam –
I note that IS Services’ quest to find devilish new ways to inconvenience us continues apace. They have thoughtfully divided their online timetable system into half-hour increments, notionally doubling the accuracy of the system. However, since lectures have been one hour long for as much of the last 400 years as I can remember, everything just appears twice.
Before long this organisation will deserve having a “D” added to the start of their name.

Yours, etc,
Martin McKenna
SS Biochemistry

how to make a ball out of it
Madam –
It seems that the Trinity Ball for 2011 is in some doubt in the light of Trinity’s sad decline in the World Ballroom Dance Rankings (more dramatic, indeed, than in strictly academic matters). The College authorities in the wake of the successes of restructuring and semesterisation are naturally looking for a remedy for this sad state of affairs. I give some idea below of preliminary thinking on this matter.
It will no longer be sufficient to qualify for entrance to the prestigious Trinity Ball (Dublin’s Social Event of the Year) by getting drunk by 8:00pm in evening dress. Students and staff wishing to attend will henceforth need a Diploma in Elementary Dance (under the supervision of the Senior Dean for staff and Junior Dean for students). The following paper will be compulsory:
1. Old Time (Viennese) and Slow (Tennessee) Waltz.
2. Quick Step.
3. Foxtrot.
4. Rock ‘n’ Roll.
This will naturally not be difficult for Trinity students. Skilled performers in these dances can be seen regularly at Jury’s in Ballsbridge on a Saturday night and at the Regency Airport Hotel in Whitehall on a Sunday night.
There will also be an optional paper for more advanced students in:
1. Rumba (for romantics).
2. Cha cha cha and samba (for agile exhibitioners).
3. Tango (for real men and real women).
Dance instruction can be made available in Hilary Term for the inexpert if need arises.
Anyone showing discourtesy to a lady at the Trinity Ball will be summarily ejected by the vigilant security guards.
Two important considerations have emerged in recent years, requiring the implementation of further regulations to ensure that:
1. Dislocation of the world of learning (still the primary concern even for a university in the embarrassingly low position of 76 in the World University Rankings) will be kept to an absolute minimum.
2. Care will be shown for the precious architectural heritage of Trinity, especially now that it has been enhanced by the iconic Hub Building in Fellows’ Square.

Yours, etc,
Gerald Morgan
FTCD (1993-2002)

Get your papers, papers for sale
Madam –
Congratulations on Issue 1 of the Trinity News, which in my opinion was very good. John Engle’s piece criticising the lame and irrelevant Student’s Union was particularly enjoyable. Careful though, there’s no real reason why the Trinity News shouldn’t be put to the same test, i.e., why shouldn’t it have to seek at least part of its funding from sales revenue if that could be supposed to improve the quality so dramatically? Surely we deserve a great paper as well as a great union.
However on the basis of the current issue the News would probably do much better than the Union.

Yours, etc,
Joanna Staunton

Female tour guide alive and well

Madam –
In response to Ms Mullins’ letter of 21 September (Vol. 57, Issue 1) regarding the employment of female tour guides – I work for Trinity Tours, and have done so for the past three years. I am most surprised that she has never seen me standing inside Front Arch.

Yours, etc,
Aoife O’Gorman
Granduand, European Studies.

Student services must be priority
Madam –
It was enormously disappointing to be confronted in the foyer of the Berkeley last Sunday morning with “Library closed” signs, but more worrying perhaps, was the fact that the feeling of helpless frustration was all too familiar.
I am a fourth year student at Trinity and have, like most of my peers, learned to silently accept Trinity’s consistent, and in some cases significant, inadequacies under the increasingly insufficient and jovial justification that “Trinity has character”, or enjoys a (rather flattering) “impeccable international reputation”.
Of course, the issue of funding is fundamental to the progress that College can realistically make. But the issue of how and where the current funding is spent is, I would argue, equally fundamental,
In the context of a university that is not only unable to offer sufficient 24-hour study space for its students (I am sure you have all had that very character-building experience of sitting on the floor of Ussher 1 waiting for a desk), but is unable to offer any library services at all on a Sunday, it seems to me an absurd decision to spend money on the annual wage of an employee, whose only role is to check the ID of any student wanting to use the Library (Arts Building entrance to the Lecky, and Berkeley foyer) – a job which is tirelessly fulfilled by the simple, reliable and non-pensionable card-swipe machine that permits entrance to the 24-hour study space.
Similarly bizarre was the decision to spend substantial amounts of money on (apparently) technologically advanced, solar-powered, self-compacting refuge disposal units around the College. The question that these examples provoke in me, and I hope in you, is to what extent is Trinity College committed to the academic success of its student body?
It seems to me, that rather than a case of “funding” it is much more simply a case of priorities. Trinity College and the Students’ Union would be well served by remembering the founding purpose of the institution is to deliver the highest possible standard of third-tier education and academic support, to the brightest and most capable students from around the world.
An accurate measure of the standard of facilities currently available to students manifests itself so obviously in the embarrassment felt by me (and again, I hope by you too) when I have to explain to a hapless Erasmus student that yes, the library does close at 4:00 on Saturdays and no, it is not open on Sundays – and I don’t know how to fix the printers.
Please remember that academic excellence begins with the availability of sufficient study-space and academic support systems to enable Trinity’s intelligent and enterprising students to get the most from their all too brief time at College, not with posh bins.

Yours, etc,
Thomas Raftery
SS English Literature

a Solution to drugs problems
Madam –
In your most recent edition of Trinity News, Alice Stephens had an interesting article on Mexico’s losing battle on illegal drugs. It was long on facts relative to illegal drugs in the Western hemisphere, but short on solutions, like most articles published on the issue.
Permit me to offer a modest solution to this worldwide problem. It is time for the Irish Government in unison with the European Union and the United Nations to start the debate on the decriminalisation of all illegal drugs.
Incidentally the group most opposed to this solution are the drug pushers.

Yours, etc,
Vincent J. Lavery
Chair, Decriminalise Illegal Drugs