405 members of the UCD Staff Common Room have pledged to boycott the contentious University Club, which is currently under construction at the site adjacent to the O’Reilly Hall. Staff members are protesting the forced closure of the Common Room and its Committee began seeking the commitment from members to turn their back on the Club one week ago.
The Common Room Committee received the notice to quit the premises in July and were informed that the area occupied by the Common Room was needed for “teaching space”. The Committee have stated that its closure represents the removal of the “only space for collegiate exchange on campus”.
In a message sent to President Andrew Deeks and seen by The University Observer, Chairperson of the Common Room Committee Wolfgang Marx wrote “The reasons for a closure at Christmas that have been presented to us are highly unconvincing; no building work undertaken after 21 December will result in the readiness of additional teaching or office space by the beginning of the second semester while an overall increase in the need for this kind of space between December and January is also unlikely.
“In the eyes of many this measure undermines Objective 7 of UCD’s Strategic Plan (Develop and Strengthen our University Community). This issue is of high importance to a very large number of people on campus. We renew our call on you to reconsider your decision and are ready to talk to you at any time.”
The pledge signed by Common Room members states: “I hereby declare that I will not become a member of the UCD University Club if President Deeks closes the UCD Common Room. I will also avoid visiting the University Club as a guest or in the context of functions. I call on President Deeks to announce an indefinite postponement of the closure of the Common Room which should continue its operations alongside the University Club.”
Marx stated that the message would be circulated to members of the University Management Team, the Governing Authority and Heads of School.
The Common Room has been operating on Belfield campus for 43 years and has hosted foreign dignitaries, visiting academics, sitting Ministers and Taoisigh alongside paid members of UCD staff.
UCDSU Graduate Officer Niall Torris, who represents post-graduate students who are eligible to become members of the Common Room, is said to have discussed the issue at a Union meeting last week.
Common Room members are expected to host a series of seminars this semester which will seek to “address developments concerning universities all over the world, but of special importance to the UCD community where the Staff Common Room is currently threatened with closure”. These seminars will highlight what many see as a trend towards the commercialisation of the University. Members will highlight what some view as a global trend of university management attempting to assert more control over the affairs of its academic staff on campus. The Committee claim that the Common Room is one of the last entities in UCD which is not managed centrally by the University.
During the year, the Common Room has entertained guest speakers such as American historian Timothy D. Snyder. The Committee has also hosted a number of events such as beer tasting, a summer party in the Rose Garden and a charity table quiz.