Students4Change have called on College to provide more in-person lectures, and to apologise to students for poor communication throughout the return to campus.
Students4Change are an independent, open-forum alliance of students from Trinity focused on taking action on the housing crisis, and reforming students’ unions.
Their online petition, “In-Person Lectures or Refunds!” calls for College to reimburse students for the minimal in-person teaching during the first part of Michaelmas term.
The petition states: “Due to the approach to the Covid-19 regulatory framework for education that Trinity College Dublin (TCD) is taking, many students will not be able to access in-class lectures due to their large class sizes.”
“We, as TCD students, are asking for provisions to refund a part of the student contribution fee for those affected by the continued substitution of in-person learning for digital learning.”
The group strongly disagrees with College’s two-phased approach to a return to in-person teaching that limits larger lectures.
In the first half of this semester, lecture sizes will be limited, with the maximum class size at the discretion of each individual school.
Provost Linda Doyle wrote in an email to students in late August that “in line with government expectations, and the pact the sector signed, we must ensure that every student has some kind of regular in-person learning experience.”
She added: “There is no hard and fast definition of what this means” and “different disciplines will be best placed to understand what this should look like in the context of that discipline.”
The Library and study spaces will continue to operate with two metre social distancing and mandatory mask wearing. The booking system and one hour and forty minutes time limit will also remain in place.
Students are free to “come and go” on campus, despite College previously saying students would be “requested not to attend” campus when they were not timetabled to be in class.
Doyle’s email also said that lectures, laboratories and tutorials are to operate with one metre social distancing and mandatory mask wearing. This was also previously announced by the school of physics but later said by College to be a school-specific approach.
The Students4Change petition also states: “If (College) has considered the current public health advice and deems that many students will not return to in-class learning, then a partial refund for students makes sense.”
They believe that students have been ‘‘milked for money for way too long for education.”
Last night, the chair of Students4Change, László Molnárfí, released a statement addressing the petition.
Molnárfí calls College’s two-phased approach to reopening ‘‘botched.”’
He said: “Many students are overall disappointed with the low number of in-person lectures, and feel that the University did not communicate clearly and early enough the re-opening plans for the 2021-2022 scholastic year.”
“As of 12 September 2021, already 130 signed our petition asking for partial refunds or some sort of compensation for those affected by the continued delivery of learning material solely online for bigger courses.”