College has issued a clarification on the seating policy in the Buttery and Dining Hall, ‘reaffirming’ that students and staff are permitted to eat their own food in the building.
In a statement released to Trinity News, College said: “Trinity has reaffirmed its arrangement that students and staff are welcome to eat homemade lunches in the Buttery.”
Commenting on the statement from College, TCDSU President László Molnárfi said that the union was “happy” to see the removal of the “classist practice”.
“Direct action and being radical works, because it makes those in power listen to us” he continued. “This is the result of campaigning by students, including a policy paper drafted by the TCDSU and sent around to various stakeholders as well as direct action taken by student groups on campus.”
“We are glad to see our College becoming a more accessible, inclusive and accepting place for students and staff, especially during the cost-of-living crisis,” he concluded.
The question of students being allowed to eat their own lunches in the Buttery has been a recurring issue on campus, with reports of students being kicked out of the facility for attempting to eat their own food.
Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) had planned to present a motion to a meeting of the Student Life Committee (SLC) on October 3, proposing a change to the Buttery’s seating policy on allowing students to consume their own lunches in the restaurant.
The TCDSU policy proposal document, seen by Trinity News, claimed that Trinity Catering, the body in charge of the Buttery, was advised by College’s Commercial Revenue Unit to ensure the policy of preventing students having their own food in the building is implemented.
“In recent months, we’ve received several reports from students who were asked to vacate these areas, even if they were with friends and despite the presence of unoccupied seating,” the document said.
“This becomes even more pertinent considering the limited seating options on campus.”
The document also shared a survey by student activist group Students4Change detailing students’ experience of eating in the Buttery.
One student claimed they have been “kicked out of both the Buttery and the Dining Hall for having [their] own”.
“Both times it was close to closing so it was very very empty so there were plenty of seats available,” they said.
“It was sad as I had to leave my friends who had bought food.”
A photo, shared by S4C to Twitter last September, depicts a notice placed in the Buttery with the College logo telling students to consume their own lunch in the Atrium rather than in the Buttery.
In its policy proposal, TCDSU criticised: “The presence of signs in the Buttery and the consistent enforcement of this rule underscore the impression that commercial interests might be superseding the sense of community.”
The proposal also compared the cost of food sold by College Catering with the cost of making the same meals at home. Based on Tesco’s prices, TCDSU found a fish fillet and chips in the Buttery (€7.80) is 30% more expensive than it is when homemade (€5.49) and sausages and chips in the Buttery (€3.90) is 23% more expensive than the same meal made at home (€3).
Another student said they bring their own lunch to the Buttery or Dining Hall “in fear of getting kicked out as I have heard the stories”.
S4C staged a sit-in protest at the Buttery last March and called on students to boycott the canteen’s catering services.
Then-Chair Molnárfi said the Buttery “should be an inclusive place for students and staff and that is what we want to achieve”.