SU campaign calls for universal public housing program at banner demonstration

Union President László Molnárfi said students and staff are being “priced out of education”

The Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) campaigns group has called for a universal public housing program for students and across the country at a banner demonstration today.

Members of the union gathered in front of the Campanile at Front Square holding banners calling for a reduction in rent as College is “pricing students out of education”.

TCDSU President László Molnárfi told Trinity News the union’s recent survey showed “what a failure this government is when it comes to housing”.

“We see students who are dropping out of their studies, students who are couchsurfing living in unsafe housing conditions, but we also see staff who are quitting lifelong careers in academia,” he said.

“[The government] look at housing as a commodity rather than as a basic human need.”

He said student accommodation should be based on a “universal public housing program”, as should all housing.

“In  Vienna 60% of all housing is social and affordable,” he said. “If other European countries can do it, so can we.”

Molnárfi is also a member of the TCD renters’ group, which is demanding a 30% reduction in rent and that the overnight guest policy in campus accommodation is scrapped.

The group is seeking to organise a rent strike among students living on campus to see these demands met.

According to Molnárfi, this action is inspired by the successful rent strike by students in Manchester University in 2020. Over 200 students refused to pay rent, leading to a 30% reduction in rent.

Manchester University Students Union attempted a second strike including sit ins in management offices in 2023 which failed. There, 350 students refused to pay rent and barricaded themselves in a senior management office for 38 days.

The 2023 strike resulted in disciplinary action towards 11 organisers, and in October 2023 the students’ union announced it would not hold another rent strike that semester.

Following the demonstration today, College told Trinity News it “respects students rights to protest peacefully”.

Madison Pitman

Madison Pitman is a Deputy News Editor and is currently in her second year studying Law with a minor in Political Science.