Editorial: October 7th, 2008


Coca-Cola boycott:
There’s no doubt that boycotting Coca-Cola was a noble move in 2003. The soft drinks giant may have long made its way into the daily diet of most students and to condemn and ban the product showed an independence of thought and awareness of issues outside of the UCD bubble.

The boycott may have been the right move in 2003, however, that alone does not justify the continuation of the ban five years later. Students may have shed accusations of political apathy then, yet this week has brought this disinterest back to the fore. Despite remaining vocal on the Coca-Cola boycott, the Students’ Union (SU) were unaware that one of their own shops were selling Diet Coke and Lilt, Coca-Cola products. And when questioned, the SU President was not able to explain the Coca-Cola Working Group that he is supposed to be presiding over.

Given the abundance of Coca-Cola drinks available in many of the larger restaurants and numerous vending machines, UCD could not be considered to be an anti-Coke campus. It’s certainly plausible that many students graduate without even becoming aware of the boycott, especially what its roots are.

So if Coca-Cola can be purchased in the majority of academic buildings, and a number of students remain unaware of the boycott, and especially, if those mandated to implement and maintain the ban are inadvertently selling the banned product, isn’t it time to ask if the Coca-Cola ban is still relevant?

It’s time to ask the students. The vast majority of those who voted in both referendums in 2003 have long left UCD, and more importantly, a whole new generation have entered. Democratically, we cannot ask current students to observe a boycott enforced on them by those who have left. The SU have a responsibility to ensure they do not sell the product they worked so hard to ban, yet now they also have a duty to inform students of both sides of the argument and let the students make their own decision once again.

Parking in UCD
An issue, which appears rather trivial, has been grumbling along mostly under the radar for over a year. Complaints about the lack of parking spaces available on campus are sometimes dismissed as ramblings of spoiled 20 year olds. However, with the news that lecturers are arriving late to classes and students turning up late to tutorial groups, solely because of a severe lack of parking spaces, this problem must be considered in a more serious light.

3,000 available parking spaces divided between a Belfield population of 25,000 is not a practical ratio to staff or students, especially when non-UCD drivers are included in the morning race for spaces. Lecturers should not have to be sitting at their desks at 8.30am just to ensure that they will be facing a hall of students at 12pm. Likewise, students should not have to be trawling looking for parking spaces 15 minutes after their lecture has begun.

A simple solution to lighten the issue is to simply require a UCD id card to park on campus. Suggestions put forward by frustrated academic staff of a identifiable flyer stuck inside a car window would not solve the problem, but would help considerably. Parking models used in universities across the country should also be seriously debated.

The university appears, after a year, to remain stuck in a stalmate on an issue which, while it may seem miniscule, has an actual effect on thousands of staff and students each day. Students and staff members are both missing out, and are growing frustrated at the university’s apparent lack of response.

The Student Centre development and Gateway Project may yet increase the number of parking spaces on campus, yet it is doubtful that these will ever solve the problem as long as UCD’s student, and therefore staff numbers continue to grow. A simple and immediate solution is to employ the tag system which would require UCD id to park on the campus. Again, this cannot solve the problem completely, but it would go a long way to solve a lot of frustrations brewing in Belfield.