It’s a dreadful experience, known to all who call the Arts Building home. You’ve just been corralled into the world’s strictest socially distanced queue at the Perch, you’ve gotten your dangerously hot americano, and you’re ready to study. You’re going to do the readings—sure week 6 isn’t too late to start, is it? As you make your way to the Berkeley entrance, you glance up at what could have been: the Lecky door. That’s right, there’s a door, right there, that could reduce the journey to the library to a trivial length! If it were open, you could walk out of a lecture and straight into the Upper Lecky. And when you want a break, or yet another molten hot americano, you could leave just as quick!
Yet this door is closed. Think of all the progress we’ve lost thanks to that cursed journey to the Berkeley entrance – not only the diminished productivity of library-goers due to the increased distance to coffee, fresh air, and social contact — but also all the library trips that never were. Think of the poor Arts Building students who couldn’t face the journey into the harsh Dublin winter and so were cruelly consigned to yet another night at the pub. And what of the societal effects of denying easy library access to our best and brightest humanities students? Admittedly this is no Hamilton, so it’s not like we missed out on a cure for cancer—but still, someone might if the Lecky door had been open last semester.
The Upper Lecky door is just one of many ways Trinity could be better for students, but isn’t. Given the amount of time it would save for everyone in the Arts Block, simply opening the door would be a really simple step towards improving the student experience. Obviously, there would need to be someone manning the door, but that’s simply the cost of a well-run college. At the very least, the door could be opened during the busiest hours of the day. On a related note, why are the large circular sofas in the centre of the Berkely-Lecky-Ussher building still pushed together? And why is the lounge area to the right as you enter the Berkeley is still cordoned off? There was already a mystery as to why College decided that pushing all the Arts Building furniture against the wall was a good way to combat the spread of Covid-19, but at least our trademark funky seats are now back. Perhaps furniture entails public health risks that I don’t understand, but I don’t think the current guidelines restrict sofas in libraries.
These concerns might seem trivial, but such issues form a part of a wider problem in College, where the student experience is often overlooked. The underfunding of the Academic Registry is perhaps the ultimate insult to the student body. Every year, without fail, many students are left in the dark about when their lectures are, and God help anyone planning to attend a tutorial. Students can’t tell their employers when they’re available, or organise times for social events with societies until the timetable is finalised, often at the last minute. Wouldn’t the start of the college year be much simpler if the Academic Registry were given the resources to design a robust timetabling procedure that students could rely on?
“Trinity could take an ambitious approach to making College more convenient and rewarding for students.”
Beyond the bare minimum of opening doors and giving students their timetables, College could take an ambitious approach to making the environment altogether more convenient and rewarding for students. Lecture recordings should be available for all students, for all classes. It’s unacceptable that students suffering from Covid-19 and helping us all by self-isolating are punished in some classes because recordings aren’t made available. The lack of recorded lectures is also an issue for students who have to work part-time. It’s really not that difficult to make life easier for every single one of the 18,000 students enrolled at College.
“Thankfully, student opposition prevented College from making life worse for anyone training or playing on campus over the next four years.”
It only takes the smallest bit of imagination to make Trinity a more convenient college, and to make life better for everyone on campus. Thankfully, many of these issues are being addressed by student representatives—take House 6 for example. Last year the SU and Trinity Disability Services secured funding to make House 6 accessible. It’s shocking that the situation was allowed to continue for so long. At best, it will remain inaccessible until 2024. If students were given the attention they deserve on campus, surely accessible buildings for society rooms and SU, CSC, and Trinity Publications offices would be made available somewhere else on campus? Of course, this would necessarily inconvenience someone, but it’s the least the College could do to make student life accessible to all until a lift is finally installed in House 6. The plan to move the Book of Kells to College Park is another particularly egregious example of how students are often at the bottom of College’s priorities list. Thankfully, student opposition prevented the College from making life worse for anyone training or playing on campus over the next four years.
It’s clear that Trinity could do much more for students. And it’s also clear that students can change life on campus for the better—maybe keep that in mind when considering whether to register for the upcoming SU elections.