A group of undergraduate science students have delivered an open-letter to the Dean of Students, Head of the Student Advisory Service and the Dean of Science, after it was discovered that the contract of current Science Student Advisor, Paola Carretoni, would not be renewed.
The open-letter, has been presented to Jason Last, UCD Dean of Undergraduate Students; Aisling O’Grady, Head of the Student Advisory Service; and Joe Carthy, College Principal & Dean of Science. The letter describes how students “feel that this is a grave error in judgement on behalf of the College of Science”, in the decision not to renew Paola’s contract with the School of Science.
The letter states that the students “also wish it to be known that Paola does not know we have written this letter, it has been done through our own initiative.”
A student involved in gathering signatures for the letter, has told the University Observer that it was signed by current undergraduate science students and alumni of UCD, gathering a total of 325 signatures from a “mix” of both current students and alumni, before the letter was delivered to the different offices. The letter highlights the role of the Student Advisor “from increasing mental health awareness, to parents’ evenings, running the science peer mentor programme, orientation week and her work with the science student societies made the College of Science feel like a home from home.”
The group of students state in the letter that they “understand that students have no role in the employment policies of the University and that a selected candidate will have good credentials”, but that the university would “simply discount Paola’s 5 years of dedication”, they believe is “baffling.”
A number of students have spoken to the University Observer, explaining why they decided to show their support and sign the letter. Outgoing Science Officer, Dylan Rodgers, said “Paola has done fantastic work through the peer mentor programme in UCD Science and that throughout my three years of helping out and actually taking part in the peer mentor programme I’ve seen it come on leaps and bounds.”
Outgoing Disabilities Rights Co-ordinator, Amy Hassett explained that she signed the letter “because Paola has done amazing work for UCD science students over the past few years. She has done a stellar job in organising our Peer Mentor programme, which is one of the best across the campus, and has been a supportive and friendly face for hundreds of science students over the last few years.”
“I’ve always felt very secure knowing that I could go talk to her if I needed to and feel that other students share that sentiment. One example of her amazing work had been to organise study rooms for science students before exams, something that is very rarely done.”
The letter concludes by addressing the Dean of Students; Head of the Student Advisory Service and Dean of Science: “Your decision will have a profound impact not only on us but on the UCD science community. We hope that you not only reconsider your decision but we hope you fully understand the detrimental ramifications of it as well.”
The University Observer reached out to Jason Last, Aisling O’Grady and Joe Carthy for comment, but had received no response at the time of publication.