I’ve come here this morning to show solidarity with students who are protesting against huge rent hikes that are taking place here in UCD. So I have with me here Joanna, who is the President of the Students Union and Úna who is the Welfare Officer.
So Joanna I know you met with the college authorities, did you get anywhere?
Joanna: On the matter of rent increases they just disagree. Management thinks it’s justified to provide accommodation that is ever increasing in its cost, it’s only going to be catering for the most affluent students and it’s not going to answer the student housing crisis. This is something as a student representative I cannot accept or agree, where public institutions should be helping students access our service, access our education and not locking students out further of the education system.
Ruth: Roughly how much is it for a student to rent here in UCD?
Joanna: The rents range from €7,500 to €11,200 for the most expensive. So we are looking at between €800 to €1,000 a month for a bed on campus for 39 weeks. It’s just not sustainable.
Ruth: What kind of problems are students coming to you about as Welfare Officer, like how is this going to impact on students?
Úna: Like everyday students are coming to me with financial difficulties. Distresses of living on campus, living in Dublin, commuting to Dublin or feeding themselves is too much of a burden. I have students coming in on a weekly basis to say that they are homeless or a risk of being homeless. We see students who are having to choose between paying their bills and having dinners, students carrying around sleeping bags because they don’t know where they are going to stay that night. This is having knock on effects on their mental health and their ability to get to and through college. It’s an absolute epidemic we are seeing these days.
Ruth: Okay this is an action you have today, so when is your next protest?
Joanna: The next protest will be taking place on Wednesday, 4 March, 12pm in the Quad Area behind the Students Union and this is going to be the biggest protest our campus has seen. We are absolutely outraged at this decision and we were completely not consulted on the making of this decision, that’s also outrageous. It’s just not good enough and while management refuse engage with us on it we will continue protesting.
Ruth: Ok so students are starting to gather here and they definitely not going to take this lying down, so full support for the students and the protest next Wednesday.