Roebuck Castle will cease to operate as on-campus accommodation for this trimester, The University Observer has learned.
In an email to prospective tenants on Wednesday, September 30th, two days after classes had commenced for first-year students and over a week after the rest of the taught programmes in the university had started back, UCD Commercial, Residential, and Hospitality services informed residents that; “In light of the current environment we regret that it is no longer possible to offer a catered option for students in the Roebuck Castle residences. We understand that this may be disappointing for you, however it is a difficult decision we have to take”.
Students were offered to relocate to their Roebuck Castle booking to other on-campus accommodation, which could be either an en-suite room or a cheaper shared bathroom.
Roebuck Castle is the only catered accommodation offered on-campus. Residents were informed that “Whilst [the alternative accommodations are all] self-catering option[s], you will be refunded your Roebuck Castle Catering fee”. However, in a follow-up email sent on Thursday October 8th, students were informed of a “potential catering alternative to that offered by Roebuck Castle”.
“The catering would be supplied by Pi Restaurant and due to the reduced opening times on site it would differ from the old Roebuck meal plan. The Pi Restaurant can offer a meal plan which includes two meals every day from Monday to Friday in Pi Restaurant itself. The breakfast would include a hot five item breakfast with tea or coffee and lunch would be a hot main course with tea/coffee/water each day.
“The cost would be €13 per person per day and students would need to pay in Pi on Monday for the week ahead. Please note, it’s not possible to include this meal plan in the original Roebuck Castle catered payment. Also, due to the current COVID-19 restrictions it’s currently only possible to pay in weekly installments for the foreseeable future”.
Prior to the closing of Roebuck Castle, the catered option offered “lunch and evening meal, Monday to Friday, with brunch on Saturday and Sunday. Meals are served in the Eat AT UCD Cafe on the Ground floor of Roebuck Castle residence. Lunch entitlement on weekdays can also be claimed in other Eat at UCD Cafes including PULSE Cafe and Earls Deli across the Belfield campus”. If used every week day, in the same way a student would have used Roebuck Castle, the new plan offered will cost €65 a week for 10 meals, and €975 for the same 15-week period as outlined by the UCD Residences website for the autumn trimester.
According to the UCD Residence Webpage ‘Living at UCD’, “When you pay rent in catered accommodation, you are paying for your accommodation and a set number of meals in advance and you will get 12 meals per week”. When directly compared with Glenomena residences, which also house en-suite rooms, Roebuck Castle was advertised as €1005 more expensive on the relevant UCD Residences websites. Presuming this extra fee would go towards the cost of catering, the cost of catering per week for the 15 weeks indicated would have been €67 for 12 meals. In addition to the two extra meals per week, this would have included a main evening meal as opposed to a breakfast.
While the number of students relocated is unclear, there was appropriate space throughout the rest of the student accommodation to accommodate all prospective tenants. When asked why Roebuck Castle was closed, and whether all students had been relocated on-campus, a spokesperson for UCD Estate Services told The University Observer “The low number of students in Roebuck Castle have been relocated to alternative residences”.