The phrase “UCD did not respond to requests for comment” is becoming the most common phrase in campus media. With very few exceptions, student journalists, as well as the Students' Union and groups representing students more generally, are ignored. While this may help keep UCD stories from gaining traction and protect the reputation of the University, it does nothing for current students who are affected by the decisions of management.
The stories reported on in campus media are, more often than not, stories that come from students. Not only are we, the journalists, students of UCD, but so are many of our sources. It is the concerns of students that guide the stories, that show us what needs to be investigated. It is the students of the Michael Smurfit Business School who are affected by this year's increase in class sizes. It is the Medicine students studying under Professor Cahill who are concerned about her grasp of the dangers of this pandemic. Journalists in UCD constantly are told of issues affecting students’ experience, from under-funded support units to programmes not living up to advertised expectations. For stories across our paper and other campus outlets, this trope of student concerns guiding journalists to investigate UCD and its management is constant.
The letters and communications sent by UCDSU to senior management that go unanswered are dutifully documented on their website and at council meetings, so, as with news and investigative stories, those affected can see that UCD has been made aware of the issue, and has simply chosen not to address it. Whatever criticism you might have of the Students’ Union, it is still the body which most legitimately represents students as a whole. Low turn-out to protests, something which President Deeks has historically cited to dismiss Union concerns, has no bearing on the legitimacy of the concerns presented by the Union, often on behalf of students with no history of participation in the Union.
It is understandable that this year is a difficult year to manage a University. Of course not all students will agree with all of management's decisions, and even in the best run and best-funded institutions, some students would fall through the cracks. It is, however, the view of The University Observer that there is a responsibility on management to address student concerns, publicly, be they presented to management by journalists, the Students’ Union, or campaigning groups. These issues are most certainly not resolved by an official response, but it is impossible to see how anything will improve if management can’t address concerns honestly.