Fee hike protest receives support from staff as tensions with College intensify

The Postgraduate Workers Organisation have accused the Provost of “publicly shaming students and staff who engage in peaceful protest”

Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) have received strong support for a protest against a proposed fee hike for master’s students.

The union today staged a silent blockade of the Book of Kells Experience following threats of escalated action which Provost Linda Doyle condemned in an email to all students yesterday evening.

Dr Niall Kennedy, a lecturer in the French department, wrote that “College more than damages its own reputation by the employment conditions to which it subjects its staff”.

Kennedy has previously been open about his struggle to find reasonable accommodation in Dublin due to the precarious contracts on which he is employed with Trinity.

Dr David Landy of the department of sociology also made an in person appearance at the protest. Landy is a vocal member of TCD Academics for Palestine, who campaign against College’s continued ties to Israel.

The Trinity chapter of the national Postgraduate Workers Organisation (TCD PWO) issued a statement in relation to recent events regarding the proposed increase.

TCD PWO called the Provost’s email “beyond unacceptable”, adding that they “oppose this in the strongest terms, and stand in solidarity with all hurt by it”.

They alleged that postgraduate workers “are abused by supervisors, coerced into lying on tax forms, and forced to accept pay below minimum wage”.

They further claimed that “the Provost has attacked the SU”, adding that “if we allow this abuse to go unchecked, that we as PhDs are next”.

“The Provost would do well to understand that the SU actions – like the PWO’s – come from a place of pain and need. Increased fees and rents may mean money for College – but that was money going to food on our plates.”

They also criticised her silence on Israel’s ongoing assault on Gaza, and stated that College is trying “to push its community down”, going further in saying that “they are panicking”.

TCDSU also released a statement during today’s protest.

They claimed that “senior management seem intent on placing the financial burdens of the college on students”, saying that “increasing the Book of Kells ticket prices by just a few euros would bring in millions in profit”.

They also referred to the Provost’s statement during her campaign for provostship in which she ruled against increasing tuition fees, and specifically stated that “postgraduate fees are already far out of reach for a huge number of people”.

“This will be the second time she has broken the sanctity of an election promise”, they continued.

“It is incredibly disappointing that the College is attempting to turn its own students against each other, and its own union, especially during exam times”.

This is the most public dispute that the Provost has had since her election to the office in August 2021, despite obvious tensions with TCDSU throughout the year.

Doyle’s email to all students last night revealed that the union had sent her what she labelled “a very concerning email”.

TCDSU President László Molnárfi presented the Provost with an ultimatum to remove an item from the agenda of the Finance Committee’s meeting due to be held today.

This concerned a proposed 2.3% increase to masters’ degrees fees as well as a 10% increase for certain programmes and non-EU courses.

In response to the email in which the Provost quoted him, referred to “allegations about a toxic workplace environment” in TCDSU, and warned against “disruptions to the normal operations of College”, Molnárfi published his own email to students.