I’ve a bone to pick. I feel used. At the time of writing, 9.30pm Friday 30th January, I’ve spent most of my day in the Publications Office. I got here at 9.30am. We’re shooting videos of the interviews with the Leadership Race candidates. Stay tuned for that.
In fact, I’ve spent most of the last two weeks in here. There was production weekend. Then there was something to do with UT and the Hist, I think. Now there are the interviews. It’s been hectic. In between producing a paper, combating the forces of Minitrue and interviewing potential sabbats, I’ve been using my spare moments to write a 4,000 word essay on, and I quote, “the ways in which language isolates and divides by creating limits and defining borders which cannot be overcome”. Yeah that’s right, in between writing for a fucking paper.
I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m complaining. I’m not. I love it.
Yesterday I read this account of Trinity life in the 60s and besides the slightly unsettling reactionary undercurrent it made me pause for a second, step away from the language doesn’t work essay and consider my own ongoing Trinity days. Turns out I’m a big fan.
And when I think of why that is I find that, by and large, it’s because of the students and what they do. Student life in Trinity is incredible. The diversity and quality of what we do here means that we operate in an environment that is probably the most interesting on the island. Yeah I read the last sentence twice too. But I’m leaving it in.
Now 90% of it I have neither the time nor inclination to engage with. But I’m glad it’s there. The GMB, for example. I’ve no fucking idea what you all do in there. I wouldn’t go near the place other than to get my papers out of the bins. But whatever you do, you all seem to be enjoying it. A lot of people seem to get a great College experience out of it. So I’m very glad it’s there. If nothing else it keeps us in stories.
It’s now 10pm, and as I am mistily-eyed present tense reminiscing on how great we all are, for no reason in particular, a thought has struck me. I wonder if you would work for free? Yeah you. Would you work for free? If you’re reading this you might well do. I do. In fact I’m writing this for free.
In fact, rereading what I just wrote, it would appear I do a lot of work for free. Deputy editor of Trinity News is an unpaid position. So is comment editor. So is online editor. So are multimedia editor and deputy news editor and online features editor. All our staff writers write for free too. The editor gets paid a stipend but that’s it.
Off the top of my head I think the SU sabbats might be the only other positions in Trinity student life (which encompasses Trinity Publications, the SU, the GSU, the CSC and DUCAC) which are paid.
The rest of us work for free. Because work it is. And not just because it’s toil. But because it spins a profit. Because when the Prendervost sets up shop in wealthy Gulf states to attract international students who will pay extortionate fees, one of his key selling points is us. And the work we do for free.
In this year’s An Introduction to Trinity: The Essential Handbook for International Students, the Prendervost declared to prospective cash cows that “You can turn up at any student society meeting and be sure of a warm welcome.” Is that right Paddy? That’s grand, I’ll do that so…
It’s the vibrancy and eclecticism of student life in Trinity that attracts these high rollers that the Prendervost wants to people his/our College with. They’re not coming for the constant rain or the damp. Or the fact that Kinsella Hall is now called Kinsella Hall. It’s mostly because of us. And we work for free. Up until last year.
Last year, the Prendervost decided to cut 5% from the budgets of all student organisations. Effectively, or perhaps in what is just a demagogic flourish on my part, it’s fair to say that we’re now paying him so we can work for free. And he’d like us to pay more. He sells us and our work conditions worsen. Not really on, is it.
It’s almost ridiculous that we continue to work at all, given the circumstances. I wonder what would happen if we did all quit. It’d take a lot of rebranding to sell that College, the one with nothing to do.
So I’ve decided to write a letter to wealthy potential international students. And I want to cc. the Prendervost. I imagine it’ll have to be an email then but the rhetoric stands.
Dear wealthy potential Trinity students in China and the US,
I wouldn’t bother if I were you.
Yeah we put on an amazing show but we’re winding it down now. It’s just bad business when you’re being increasingly charged for putting in serious unpaid labour.
I’d imagine it’s the same in your own industries of oil and shipping.
The student life that the Prendervost has been telling you about is actually going to peter out any second now because it would appear he’s doing his utmost to kill it. I know, doesn’t seem to make any sense at all, but there you go.
It used to be great. There were legions of us, all contributing to a diverse and dynamic body that meant that Trinity was the kind of place that people wanted to go to. But the Prendervost started taking the almighty piss so we said to hell with you, you do all the work, you’re the one getting paid. And we left him up welcoming and involving new students creek without an enthusiasm and love for this college paddle.
So as far as I know he’ll be meeting you at the airport if you do decide to come.
Welcome to Trinity. We’ve no societies or papers or sports clubs anymore. But the Prendervost will sort it.
And Freshers’ Week, that’s all him now too.
Good luck Prendervost, I hope you’ve experience dispensing free pizza and johnnies by the barrel.
And putting up marquees in the fucking rain. For no money.
And there’ll be no more events. No, no.
He can invite you up for subsided tea and biscuits in that giant house he has that must cost a fortune to run.
And there’s no more debates or speakers. Because he’s not allowed in the GMB now.
And the Freshers’ Pack you got rid of that too, didn’t you Prendervost? That was helpful.
“We used to have a fantastic Freshers’ Pack that contained literature on all the various student organisations but I scrapped it for a flat screen toaster for the Global Room. But here’s an Ian Mooney for Welfare poster that I found down the back of an Arts Block couch. And a copy of TN from 2013 that was being used to stop a draft getting in a window in House 6. And a Phil sticker I peeled off the jacks. Jesus this is hard.”
“I know I’ve done a shit job but the people who did a stellar job all quit when I started taking their money away and making it increasingly difficult for them to do their job. That they did for free.”
We do do it for free. A bit of respect to go with it would be greatly appreciated.
Or we might stop bothering.