Picket lines put in place as students campaign for the Freshers Tent to replace Newman Building.

It was love at first sight between the UCD student population and the Freshers’ tent - so much that they are campaigning for it to replace Belfield’s most beloved building.

Freshers’ Week has taken centre stage in UCD between the 18th and 22nd of September, with new and returning students gathering at introductory events - knowing full well that was the only week in the entire academic year they would actually make an effort to socialise and come across as approachable. Alongside an innate - and, for some, inexplicable - ambition to socialise with as many people as possible, the undisputed protagonist of Freshers Week was the Freshers Tent. This gentle, white giant of metal and plastic has perhaps seen more people than the second floor of the James Joyce library during exam season, as it was also chosen by the Students Union to host the Freshers’ Ball. 

It seems that the Tent has become the friend nobody knew they needed - definitely more than the Freshers’ week acquaintances, as we bet you already haven’t seen nor heard from half of the people you talked to that week. It was the setting for meet-ups, first dates, and early academic year shenanigans; to use a common phrase in this context, “what happens in the Freshers’ Tent, stays in the Freshers’ Tent.” But with Freshers’ Week wrapping up, the prospect of the Tent being removed has sparked the first collective action of this academic year. Perhaps motivated by the last burst of social energy or simply as an attempt to hold on to the memories, UCD Students have launched a campaign to have the Freshers’ Tent permanently replace Newman Building.

The petition is motivated by the similarities between the two areas: chaotic, loud, and the disregard for personal boundaries. The temperature variation is another trait Newman and the Tent have in common, with polar and tropical climates perfectly alternating each other every three hours. A point in favour of the Tent is the sense of community it gives to the student population, with everything happening in plain sight and, thus, allowing for an element of surprise. Newman cannot count on this element anymore, as nobody acts surprised when something Newman-coded happens - “Newman-coded” has even entered the official UCD jargon. 

Picket lines have been put in place to prevent the Tent from being removed, yet this is not causing disruption to the students’ life. Indeed, many lecturers have agreed to hold their classes whilst in the picket line - instead of their classrooms in, you guessed it, Newman. On its part, Newman has been taken over by the workers who were supposed to dismantle the Tent, and they might have started to realise the motives behind this campaign. 

The Harpy is closely following the progress of the campaign. And whilst our editors are required to remain neutral in these situations, their familiarity with both areas means they would rather be excluded from this narrative.