Michael Tuohy shines a spotlight on UCD’s greed and hypocrisy surrounding the abolition of the No-Detriment policy
All the way back in April, UCD students experienced something truly rare as UCD Management introduced a policy that actually benefited students! UCD’s Covid-19 Assessment Guidelines were introduced, to the joy of many, so that people would not be punished for a drop in quality in their assignments during a worldwide pandemic. The burden that the pandemic, online learning, and working from home were to hold over students had been majorly eased. Students would no longer have to worry about the effect all these things may have had on their mental health. It turned out in the end that this new policy was actually just a set of guidelines, and was “advisory, not mandatory”, so plenty of students didn’t actually reap the benefits of it through the uncaring nature of some select lecturers. The experiences with it amongst students varied, some believing they’d benefitted, others believing that the guidelines had actually done nothing at all.
In any case, the idea was at least a step in the right direction for UCD. Maybe now we could believe that UCD did actually care about giving students an education, and not just bleeding them dry of every penny they could. Even if the guidelines were poorly carried out, it at least left students comfortable that this situation would be taken into account as lecturers graded everyone’s assessments. All students were rightfully under the impression that while online learning continued, we would be benefiting from this policy. That’s why the recent announcement by UCDSU President Conor Anderson that UCD Management had nixed the policy this year was met with shock and anger.
Yes, it’s true! This trimester UCD students should expect no help from UCD. They are back to their cold, uncaring, money-grubbing selves once again. And should we really be surprised? The surprising thing was seeing an ounce of humanity from Management last year, but this horrible mistreatment of students is in keeping with UCD’s years-long policy of “Money First, Students Last”.
According to UCD, students should have been better prepared this year for a semester online. It’s not like UCD kept quiet about the semester being completely online until a week before classes started now is it? Students got an email from the Registrar just six weeks out from classes beginning to say that students should expect “30-70%” of classes to be on campus, and graduate students would have “Between 20 and 86%" - all lies so that they could bring people into on-campus accommodation under false pretences. Does UCD Management think we’re all idiots? Do they realise that people can go back and read the emails they sent out months ago?
President Deeks certainly doesn’t, as evidenced by the email he sent to UCD Staff just last week where he claims that on the 11th of February this year he “pointed out the seriousness of an infectious virus with a case fatality rate (to) the order of 2.5%...” and “suggested that, as a University community, we had an obligation to be the voice of reason in such discussions”. This stands completely at odds with an email he sent to UCD Staff on the 18th of March this year where he wrote: “I would like to echo the expert advice that COVID-19 presents very little personal danger to the great majority of our employees and students, and for healthy people of working age is unlikely to be more severe than a winter cold or ‘flu’.” It seems Deeks has started a new module in Revisionist History this trimester.
Of course, UCD Management doesn’t really think we’re all idiots. The fact of the matter is that they just don’t care about us. They could not care less about students and care only about upping their personal profits and the University’s reputation. A University spokesperson stated that UCD’s initial reluctance to implement a broad No Disadvantage policy stemmed from a fear of devaluing the degrees that they give out. It’s clear from this that what UCD values above all else is its image. They care about the ranking some arbitrary index puts them at so they can bring in more international students, over caring for the students they currently have.
This release of information about the abolition of guidelines was a calculated one from UCD management. Many students thought up until last week that these guidelines were still in place, and why wouldn’t they? We’ve received no email from the Registrar letting us know of the change, nor anything from UCD Management. Instead, we’ve been told by the SU President, almost as if UCD knew there would be absolute outrage at the announcement and didn’t want any of that outrage to be shot in their direction.
Deeks and his crew of cronies may believe we students are idiots, but we’re far from it. We need to direct our outrage straight at UCD management. This uncaring group of privileged patricians looking down upon the lowly plebeian students of UCD and laughing as they rake in millions of euro a year in revenue and do absolutely nothing to improve student life with it. It’s been written many times before, but once again, cuts to mental health supports, computers taken away across campus, the continuation of overly high accommodation rents, ridiculous fees and the outrageous Student Centre Levy which will continue and only increase in years to come with the building of a new Student Centre thanks to some large greedy Societies campaigning, and what do we actually have to show for it? Nothing! Not an inch of ground has been given up to Students. And we can only really blame our leadership for this. Misguided at the best of times, UCDSU has done nothing to quell or fight back against the wave of hatred that UCD Management sends out at students with every single meeting. Student leadership in this country as a whole has been poor. At a time when even our Government is turning their backs on the youth of this country, there seems to be nobody willing to stand up and lead a fightback. But I believe this won’t be for long.
This pandemic has made it hard for anyone to go out and protest for their rights. My utmost respect goes out to Debenhams workers who picket the old Dublin store of that gluttonous company day and night. But with news of a vaccine that will be made available in the next few months, a wave may be coming. This country has had enough of being made a fool of by the establishment parties and the figures within them, and the same is true of students and UCD management. UCD would be better off making sure students can’t get back to campus anytime soon, because as soon as we get back to Belfield, the student populace is going to get seriously angry and set up actual protests again. Not the ineffective, quiet, cold shoulder tactics of the past like those used by the previous UCDSU team. We need something more, something that can scare these Opulent Oafs into submitting in some way. It may not seem that way, but students hold the true power here. We can and should choose to withhold all payments to the college until things change. These large faceless and blameless groups need to be taught a lesson.