The Trinity College Dublin Renters’ Solidarity Network, a grassroots organisation established by the Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) President László Molnárfi, have announced intentions to “escalate [their] campaign” in a letter to Provost Linda Doyle.
The letter, sent on January 28, demands an end to the “restrictive, paternalistic, and dangerous” overnight guests policy, a 30% rent reduction, free laundry services, and rent refunds for each day with serious maintenance issues.
The letter also requested more reasonable costs to replace key cards as well as better communication in relation to staff visits and that “no disabled applicant be disadvantaged by having to pay more for an accessible room simply because cheaper rooms are not accessible”.
“We have mobilizing capacity, as demonstrated by the quick growth of our group, as well as the hundreds of signatures on the petition that we have recently put forward in relation to the overnight guest policy,” the letter read.
“We are therefore giving notice of our intention to escalate our campaign and are awaiting your official response on the demands that we have outlined,” it said.
An argument for student safety is also raised: “it [the policy] is dangerous because someone might need to sleep at a resident’s place, such as in cases where they miss their public transport and cannot get home”.
“Rejecting them from a safe place to sleep is unacceptable … this policy is ineffective and only serves to put us in danger.”
The network labels itself a “grassroots campus residents’ action group” aimed at targeting issues College residents collectively face.
The petition started by the group earlier this month calling for an end to Trinity accommodation’s overnight guests policy has reached over 500 signatures.
The group, which at the time of the letter had 114 members, “takes inspiration from the success of rent strikes in the U.K.”, particularly the rent strike by students in Manchester University in 2020, when 200 students refused to pay rent, resulting in a 30% reduction in rent.
“They claim that they are doing this for our benefit. Yet, this is just a paternalistic control mechanism that College applies to us in order to limit our autonomy and indoctrinate us into following authority, forming part of a larger trend to make education a factory process to mould us into the ideal future workers,” the petition states.
A day prior to the sending of the letter, the Renters’ Solidarity Network held a demonstration on campus in which they distributed leaflets to tourists outside of the Book of Kells Experience.
The leaflets which criticised College for “extortionate” rents urged tourists not to purchase tickets for the Book of Kells and to consider “leaving a one star review on Google, citing student issues”.
Under the policy, students living in Trinity Halls may not sign in an overnight guest to stay after 11pm of the same day, with this cut-off time being extended to midnight for students loiving in on-campus accommodation and Pearse Street.
Last November, the TCDSU called for an end to the policy, likening it to the 1960s-era ‘in loco parentis’ policy adopted by College in which they legally acted as the guardian of student residents who left their family homes.
The union also voted in November to campaign for the removal of the time limit on overnight guests.
Student residents are classed as licensees, restricting their rights in comparison to those of official tenants.