TCDSU asks college to “fulfill their promise” of in-person teaching

The union is to hold a town hall on Friday, addressing students’ concerns over the return to campus

This afternoon, Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) announced a “Return to Campus” town hall meeting to be held virtually on Friday at 1pm. 

TCDSU announced the meeting in response to “delayed timetables and lack of in-person contact hours”.

“We want to hear from you. Join us this Friday at our town hall, where we’ll be discussing these issues and addressing student concerns directly,” the union said. 

In a press release, TCDSU outlined its work over the summer. The previous and current presidents and education officers have sat “on a number of covid related committees throughout the past year,” and have “consistently reiterated students’ desire for maximised in person teaching, and the return of student life on campus(es),” the release said.

TCDSU said it achieved a “number of concessions” in Trinity’s “Return to Campus” plan, including unrestricted student access to campus, in-person graduations, and outdoor student spaces.

The union also stated its current priorities, including lobbying for library capacity and opening hours to be increased, lectures to continue to be recorded and “the accommodating of students with extenuating circumstances that stop them from fully returning to campus”. 

TCDSU said it was reopening its 11 student breakout and study spaces, run last year in conjunction with the Graduate Students’ Union (GSU). 

“We are asking that College fulfill their promise by affording all students an element of in-person teaching”, the Union said. 

TCDSU explained that Trinity’s return plan was “not just the product of student’s desires”, but “the balance of desires from different stakeholders”, including public health experts and IFUT Reps. 

“This document was justified to us based on public health guidelines in society at large, the predicted peak in cases over the first weeks of semester, and the fact that education providers are legally unable to ask for vaccine status.” 

“Although the original plan was conservative, every student was promised an element of in-person teaching, along with constant review of restrictions.”

“With the release of timetables in recent days, it has become apparent that this plan is not being carried out as promised”, TCDSU said. 

The statement outlined that while classes of less than 50 people were to take place in-person, various schools have announced that many lectures this term will be entirely online.

“This directly contradicts the College’s commitment to constant revision of guidelines.” 

TCDSU continued its criticism: “There have been very few attempts to rotate in-person attendance to facilitate on-campus learning, as was specified in the [Return to Campus] document.”

“Students were told that it would be necessary for them to be in Dublin this term,” the union said, noting that many students have signed leases before learning that all their classes will take place online. “This is not the dream we were sold.” 

“These constant contradictions and lack of communication are not simply good enough.”

The statement did not outline specific measures TCDSU will take to lobby College to change its policies. 

TCDSU’s announcement follows criticism of College’s reopening plan from many students, with campaign group Students4Change releasing a petition calling for a partial refund for those receiving minimal in-person teaching this semester. 

Sarah Emerson

Sarah Emerson is currently a Deputy News Editor of Trinity News. She is a Senior Sophister English Literature and Jewish and Islamic Civilizations Student.