Creating community on campus again

Elisa Eckstein sits down with Ents Officer Max Lynch to discuss upcoming plans for Senior Freshers Week

In the late hours of Friday morning I sat down for a coffee with Max Lynch, this year’s Ents officer. Having disclosed plans of a Senior Freshers week earlier this month, I was interested to see if he had any plans that he was ready to discuss. There seems to be great excitement from Lynch and the Ents team to “start the year off with a bang”; this will be the first year back on campus with no Covid restrictions in place, and Ents wants to bring back events that were previously not possible. 

Renewing community spirit

Lynch cites his experience with societies as the reason for wanting to be Ents officer, and provide a year full of activities for all students. Having experienced a traditional Freshers in first year, Lynch joined some societies with which he has stayed for years. He explained that the sense of community within these societies allowed him to meet more people and create a reliable foundation for his college experience. As Ents officer, Lynch wants to replicate this feeling and foster it on a larger scale. Covid restrictions greatly affected every aspect of college life, and Lynch believes that it caused a rift within campus culture. In other words, there is a lack of intermingling that previously, because of a traditional Freshers, did not happen. 

This could be a potential danger for those in their first few years of college: “if there isn’t that buzz (around campus), people stick in their closed-off groups, and that can lead to people feeling isolated,” says Lynch. In his opinion, the key to avoiding this is to create excitement going back into the first week of college.

Creating excitement (and fostering accessibility) 

Though not fully disclosed, it is rumoured that there are going to be many events during the first two weeks back on campus. Ents recognises that lectures will be starting in this period, but believes it is important to centralise the excitement of being back at college before the stress of assignments and lectures takes over. The plan is to host a number of on-campus events during the week to encourage more community, and in order to “build a buzz up” over being on campus again, Lynch reveals that “the Ents team has been working hard over the summer to ensure that similar activities to those during last year’s Senior Freshers week can take place, even without Covid grants.” 

However, Lynch believes this year’s Senior Freshers will be different, and there will be more emphasis on accessibility and socialisation. As mentioned in his campaign, he believes society and Ents events need to move away from being alcohol-based, and plans to promote this idea during Senior Freshers week. Events will be more relaxed, and will be centred around mingling throughout campus during the day. Ents also hopes to incorporate more outdoor spaces for those still affected by Covid, and to create events that are accessible to all. “The word accessibility has been thrown around a lot in previous years, but it’s important to take it and run with it.”

Lynch has plans to collaborate with different societies on campus and on a national level in order to ensure future Ents events are more accessible and accommodating. He has expressed interest in working with the Mature Student society to arrange events that are more flexible time-wise. Lynch believes that the schedules of younger students shouldn’t be the only ones taken into consideration when organising events. “All events should be accommodating and inviting to all,” he says, “it’s key to fostering a sense of community.”

Club night on the first day of classes 

Ents has also planned a club night featuring a prominent Dublin DJ on the first day of classes. Lynch cites his nostalgia for traditional, pre-Covid events as incentive to hold this event: “I had a proper Freshers with club nights and I’m so grateful for that.” While socialising in nightclubs may be rather different from daytime events, it is a traditional aspect of Freshers, and it also allows for people to bond over fun times and nice tunes. Club nights are also recently taking on more significance in the advent of many Dublin nightclubs closing, and nightlife in general seeing a deterioration. While it is not Ents’ responsibility to keep nightlife running, it is good to see that such events are helping maintain some of Dublin’s nightlife culture. 

Societies Fair will not go ahead

Unfortunately, Senior Freshers week will not see the return of a societies fair. While Lynch agrees that societies are vital as an introduction to campus life as a way to find and create communities, the CSC has not planned for such an event to take place. A Senior Freshers fair is not in the jurisdiction of Ents, however Lynch is hopeful that the events Ents has planned will be enough to generate “real buzz” on campus.

Moving on from the pandemic

Though a new addition to the TCDSU, Lynch hopes to bring his experience and fondness for creating a space that everyone feels comfortable in to his role as Ents officer. Using his experience of being on society committees pre and post-Covid, there is hope that Lynch will be able to foster the environment he believes was lacking for many students during their first few years of college.