Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) has recorded a deficit of €70,622 in the financial year ending June 2018. This is over four times the deficit of the previous year, which stood at €14,837, and is the third consecutive year that the SU’s accounts have been in deficit.
The accounts are due to be presented at a meeting of Union Forum tomorrow, a body which includes the SU’s sabbatical and part-time officers, and Council on Tuesday evening.
TCDSU President, Shane De Rís, attributes the “extraordinary deficit” to the Repeal referendum and the Take Back Trinity protests, which resulted in spending of €20,125 and €10,615 respectively. The refurbishment of the SU’s Hamilton shop also cost €17,589. In his report, De Rís states: “The recurring loss making activities of the Union will now have to be reviewed. The future of the SU, and the services it provides, are at serious risk.” The Treasurer’s report also notes that “the SU can sustain a loss making situation for one or two more years. It must use this time to get a grip on its finances. This did not happen in 2017/18.”
The SU funded newspaper, The University Times (UT), continues to be a resource drain on the SU, with the third year of SU deficit being the third year that the position of UT Editor is separate from the Communications and Marketing Officer position. In an email statement, TCDSU President, Shane De Rís, commented: “The University Times publication costs continued to outweigh income to the paper, running a loss of €16,569. This does not include the cost of salary and rooms for the editor. The decision was made to introduce an independent editor with the view to the paper becoming financially self-sustaining in a timely manner, which has not occurred. This is despite the trojan efforts of the Editors, alongside the SU, to increase advertisement income.” The Treasurer’s report also noted that “the additional cost of funding the student newspaper, salary and college rooms is unsustainable”.
In a statement to Trinity News, the Editor of UT, Eleanor O’Mahony, commented: “The University Times is taking this matter extraordinarily seriously, and we understand the implications for TCDSU’s finances and the work it does on behalf of students. The University Times also, however, does extremely important work for students. That said, we have already cut one of our print issues this year to save money, and are in the process of considering making fundamental changes to the newspaper’s finances.”
Meanwhile, the SU shops in House Six and the Hamilton suffered a loss in turnover, “partially due to forced closures during the adverse weather events [Storm Ophelia and the March snowstorm]”. With a profit of €6,362 recorded in 2016/17, the report states that the SU “will be actively working to return the shops to a profit making utility of the Union, while maintaining the best value for students”.
The deficit of the SU Café has also doubled to €3,836. Despite the report noting that “the café is popular and reflects well on the students who run it”, the SU states that it “cannot fund a loss making café in the long term and the deficit must be eliminated. If progress is not made in 2018/19, the way the café operates will have to be changed or closure may take place.”
Ents returned a surplus of €21,705, which TCDSU hopes “will be met, if not improved up [sic], in the coming year”.
Total expenditure of the union amounted to €1,544,472, up from €1,478,062 in 2016/17, with total income in 2017/18 totalling €1,473,850.
Last year’s deficit figure of €14,837 was half that of the 2015/16 deficit figure of €32,283. Prior to this, TCDSU made a surplus of €21,123 in 2014/15 and a surplus of €46,330 in 2013/14.