UCDSU held a renters town hall this evening, where students were encouraged to attend and discuss issues they have been experiencing with regard to accommodation, and what political action they would like UCDSU to take.
According to a show of hands taken at the beginning, of the approximately 80 students in attendance, half were living on campus, with the other half renting in the private market. Around half of the students in attendance were in first year, with no one outside of the sabbatical team identifying themselves as having attended the “Fix Our Education” protests in 2020.
UCDSU President Ruairí Power led the discussion on different ways to address rental issues, with protests and sit-ins on campus being the most broadly popular tactics, followed by protests and sit-ins in the city centre. Rent strikes were also mentioned, but were not endorsed by the majority in the room.
Campaigns and Engagement Officer Darryl Horan and Power presented the tactics already discussed by the sabbatical team, including a potential protest on Wednesday October 13th, the day after Budget 2022. Power referenced the accommodation protest that was held outside the University Club on March 4th 2020 as part of the “Fix Our Education” campaign. He recollected a turnout of 120 people, and said it was something he would like to see for this year.
Many students expressed annoyance at the quality of accommodation for the price point. Issues such as lack of ovens in apartments were raised, and one student mentioned their experience of mice in their on-campus accommodation. “They’re putting up the rent every year, but they’re not changing what you’re getting for your money.” With regard to off campus accommodation, some students expressed concern over landlord withholding deposits.
Power argued that, specific to on-campus accommodation, students are being penalised by the University in their decision to construct expensive and exclusionary accommodation, and that “students from lower income backgrounds are subsidising expensive accommodation".