/Students “horrified” by Halls restrictions seek help from unions – Trinity News

Students “horrified” by Halls restrictions seek help from unions – Trinity News

Students who feel “terrorized” by a strict implementation of social restrictions at Trinity Hall (Halls) have raised their concerns ahead of the upcoming semester.

In a meeting of the newly-established Trinity College Dublin’s Renters Union (TCDRU) this evening, an issue was raised about the conditions Trinity Halls (Halls) residents have been experiencing over the last few months. 

Students want to see Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) support students living in Halls as they navigate the restrictions brought in by Covid-19.

Speaking to Trinity News, one student said that they felt “terrorized” and “horrified” following incidents at Halls. 

With growing concern about the spread of Covid-19 throughout the student accommodation complex, new rules have been put in place for residents, with students saying that the process in which they are being dealt with is “like a prison”.

Student testimonies seen by Trinity News say that “disciplinary hearings” that have been introduced for those breaking residency rules on campus have led to “mental breakdowns” from students, who “are left crying, without knowledge of what to do next”.

In a similar testimony, one student described the experience of their friend, who was caught converging with four other students and then “kicked out” of Halls.

“Half of my friends were hysterically crying and one of them had a panic attack over Zoom,” the student said. 

On 16 October 2020, The University Times published an article on the conditions in which students were living in the Trinity accommodation complex, stating that sometimes students were fined for “trivial” breaches of the rules. 

However, students say that “even after the publication of the article, no change was made”.

Several students are now calling for Trinity College Dublin’s Students’ Union (TCDSU) to help in making conditions better for students in the complex. 

A Junior Fresh student spoke to Trinity News, saying that Trinity College Dublin’s Students’ Union (TCDSU) hasn’t spoken about this issue, or “at least, they haven’t brought it up yet”. 

The student said that “so far, the SU has not investigated or provided support to students in Halls and has not reacted to the publication of the [University Times] article, except for Communications Officer Philly Holmes who condemned a ‘belittling’ email  about turning off lights by College’s Accommodation Office to the residents of Halls”.

“I hope that TCDSU will do something,” the same student continued. “I trust that they will do something.”

According to student testimonies shared at the renters’ union meeting this evening, on 21 January 2021, a warden at a disciplinary hearing “compared an American student to Trump” for not being “Covid-conscientious” because he converged with three other students. 

“Students feel terrorized and traumatized by a reigning atmosphere of lawlessness,” another student said.

In a testimony shared at the meeting, a student said that they were given a €100 fine and asked to write “an essay about the importance of rules” after they had “three non-residents over for homemade pizza” when their flatmates were away for the weekend. 

“They said that if they didn’t ‘sympathise’ with the situation I would’ve been evicted instead of the fine even though it was a first offense that didn’t actually endanger any of my flatmates.”

Other students testified that there have been incidents where international students have been threatened with being “sent back” to their home countries. 

One student added that while Halls has been focused on stopping any outbreaks on campus, they have “ignored mental health” of the students currently living in the accommodation. 

Most of the residents in Halls are first years. It also houses second year students who are elected to the Junior Common Room (JCR), which oversees student life in Halls, and third year Scholars.

In August of last year, planning permission was approved for the introduction of 358 additional bed spaces for students at Halls.

College emphasised that this is an “important project for the College to provide accommodation for its student base”.