The independent campaign that aims to address the key issues of housing, mental health, affordability, and disability services launched yesterday evening.
Speaking at the launch were the Students’ Union President Joanna Siewerska, a representative of UCD Anti-casualisation, USI President Lorna Fitzpatrick, and Dr. Aideen Quilty from the School of Social Policy in UCD.
Also in attendance were members of campus political groups, including the Social Democrats, Labour, Greens, and Socialist Worker Student Societies. The entire SU sabbatical staff with the exception of Brian Treacy (Education Officer) and Tom Monaghan (Entertainments Officer)
In the area of UCD mental health policy, they are calling for the mental health and counselling facilities to be fully funded, with security of tenure for staff. They called for the abolition of the mandatory session limit of eight sessions, and the end of the policy of referring students to external counsellors. The University Observer reported earlier this week that the cost of external referrals has grown by over 2700% since the scheme was introduced in 2017.
Speaking on their disability policy, the group is calling for a fully resourced Access Centre, which has been criticised by many students for not doing enough to help students with disabilities. They outlined the faults in the way UCD deals with students with disabilities, calling for a functioning communication network, dedicated student advisors, and for accessible housing to be made available on campus.
Their housing policy called for a campus wide rent freeze, noting that UCD had the highest rents for on campus accommodation of any Irish university. They are calling for affordable accomodation to be made available for low income students.
Campus affordability is the final key pillar of the campaign, with the Fix our Education group calling for a lowering of resit fees and the introduction of a cap on said fees. They also said they wanted to explore the setting up of a food bank on campus, as well as a reinstatement of the childcare allowance.
The consensus in the room was that direct action and civil disobedience was the way forward, as one person in attendance raised the point that it would be naive to assume UCD would be willing to implement any of the proposals raised about without pressure being applied to them.