Despite having over 425 years of experience, Trinity still cannot seem to time things right.
Works in Fellows’ Square, which necessitated the redirecting of students via the
back of the 1937 Reading Room, began a week after students returned from the
This was despite the fact that the Square would have been virtually empty from the middle of December to the last week in January; the works could have been completed long before students returned. Builders don’t take a month’s holidays at Christmas – they would have been working until the 23rd and back to work by January 2 at the latest.
In August, the sounds of hammers, drills, and other power tools provided the soundtrack for
students suffering through supplementals in the Arts Building, as carpet laying and other
works were carried out. This was despite the fact that it could have been done anytime in
the preceding three months, while no exams were ongoing.
The Nassau Street gate closed two days before Reading Week began and reopened right in the middle of it, instead of closing on the Saturday and reopening on the Friday. Why? Who knows. Students are reporting anywhere up to fifteen minute queues for toilets in the Arts Building when, as far as I am aware, the works could have been done in summer – the signs erected would suggest the works were not owing to emergency repairs, but rather scheduled maintenance. This is not acceptable by any standards. Even the queues for Trinity Ball tickets weren’t much longer this year.
“The feeling you get around here sometimes is that students are viewed as a mere inconvenience. We’re standing in the way of progress.”
As we pay the second highest university fees in Europe, you could be forgiven for thinking
this would lead to College treating us a bit better than the likes of Germany or the
Netherlands, where students pay nothing towards their third-level education. We all know
money won’t necessarily buy you happiness, but in third-level, apparently it won’t even
buy you a campus that looks after its students’ basic needs.
The feeling you get around here sometimes is that students are viewed as a mere inconvenience. We’re standing in the way of progress. If Trinity consisted solely of postgraduate researchers and students, there would be no need for amenities like the cricket pitch, the gym, or the whole of House Six – they could pave over the lot and build a pharmaceutical research lab or an “ideas space” for business postgrads to formulate ways to make College even more money.
“It is increasingly felt that students’ concerns rank last in the order of precedence.”
This may not be a fair representation of how College authorities actually view students –
as the SU presidents’ joint letter to the Irish Times last week highlights, universities are
under severe financial pressure. Perhaps those who make the decisions in College see no other option in sustaining infrastructure than to cater to foreign investment, and there is, of course, the valid argument that a college needs to engage with the outside world for a higher quality standard.
But it is increasingly felt that students’ concerns rank last in the order of precedence: making the College look attractive for wealthy American and Chinese partners – perhaps “investor” would be a more apt term – is far more important. It’s more than just construction works: even simple things, like why on earth does Front Gate close on Saturday and Sunday evenings?
If it’s the argument that they haven’t enough security to keep people off campus, the Nassau Street gate is open and unmanned, and the sign at Front Gate directs you there. Perhaps there is some very valid reason, but as with everything else, we’re not told why it is done, nor are we consulted. It’s the same with the presence of Noonan security on campus this year; changes are introduced with little regard for how students will feel.
It is all part of a greater trend of not considering students’ concerns and comfort on campus.
The standard mantra recited is that it’s Trinity saving for the future and upgrading facilities
for students. This is, of course, necessary and a certain degree of disruption is inevitable. I
am not, for instance, taking issue with the fact that the Pearse Street gate is closed for a
considerable length of time due to the construction works on the Oisín House site. It is the
piecemeal and never-ending minor works that need cause no disruption that grates
“A balance must be struck between preserving the past for the future, and the needs of those in the present.”
If something can be completed within a week, or a month, it should be carried out
outside of term time. I arrived in Trinity in 2014, and since then at any point, somewhere on this campus, there has been a building site. I doubt that by the time I do eventually graduate much will have changed.
We are lucky to study in an historic campus in the heart of the city. With this comes the price that buildings will need remedial works more often than newer campuses: sewerage systems will need upgrading and electrical wiring will need replacing to preserve the College for future generations. But a balance must be struck between preserving the past for the future, and the needs of those in the present. Students know building works are necessary. Why they must be carried out at the busiest and most stressful of times is the question.