Vice-Provost Orla Sheils has requested that students’ absence from class be excused during the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) Dáil march on Wednesday as a “mark of solidarity” with students’ demands.
Last week USI called for students to take part in a march to the Dail ahead of Budget day 2024. The union is demanding that the government allocate a portion of its €65 million “rainy day” fund to address the student accommodation crisis and the “soaring” cost of third level education.
In an email today, Sheils requested that students who wished to take part in the scheduled protest “may do so with no negative consequences for their absence from lectures, tutorials and laboratories”.
The email from the Vice-Provost, indicated college’s support for the protest, noting its alignment with Provost Linda Doyle’s statement last week which called on the government to address the “chronic underfunding” of the third level sector.
The march is set to take place this Wednesday, beginning at noon at the Garden of Remembrance and continuing until 3pm.
In a statement to Trinity News today, USI Vice-President for Campaigns, Zaid Albarghouthi urged students to participate in the protest.
“The core ask of the protest is to demand that the government uses its unprecedented budget surplus to adequately support students and fund the third-level education sector. We have exhausted all other avenues, and the pressure must be put on decision-makers at this very sensitive time to provide for the needs of students”, Albarghouthi said.
Albarghouthi also addressed concerns regarding the effectiveness of the Union’s plan for direct action, noting frustration with the “lack of continuity” following last year’s USI walkout.
“We have multiple plans to escalate action if, on October 10th, we do not get a significant portion of what students have been asking for years”, Albarghouthi said.
“If we do not come out and show unity and strength, we guarantee no improvement to the situation, but if we do, we guarantee that our voice is heard and that, at least, the message is sent from our end”, he added.
Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) President László Molnárfi also called on students to participate in the protest in a statement today.
“The same government, a government for the rich, the vulture funds and the capitalists, that tells us ‘we lack housing, ’we lack affordable student accommodation,’ ‘we cannot invest more in access to education’ have a €65 billion surplus which they are saving for a ‘rainy day’”, Molnárfi said.
“The time for respectability, lobbying and sitting down with the Ministers for a cup of coffee is over. This government deserves to be called out at every possible occasion, wherever they go”, he added.
In a statement announcing the march last week USI President Clifford said it is “inexcusable that students couch-surf, commute long distances, and have no hope of a future in Ireland while the government has the capacity to fund that future”.
“Students and other sectors of Irish society are in crisis now. Government talks about having a reserve ‘rainy day’ fund, but we are drowning. Or will it just be a ‘rainy day’ for Government when the banks need bailing out again?” he added.
This article was updated at 17:15 to include a statement from TCDSU President László Molnárfi.