Students who rented lockers in Veterinary Science in the 2019/20 academic year have had their belongings thrown away by Estate Services.
The locker rentals, which had been extended over the summer due to Covid-19 restrictions, were cleared out in anticipation of the autumn semester in September. The UCD Veterinary Sciences Centre was cleared out on the 12th to the 13th of the month. Students were notified on July 31st that lockers were accessible to them for collecting their belongings. This accessibility ended on August 28th.
However, not all students were able to access their lockers during that time period. Some, like Veterinary Graduate Entry student Kelsey Bernarducci. Bernarducci is originally from the United States and was visiting home when lockdown was brought into place last March. She was unable to return to Ireland until the beginning of this academic year, and by the time her quarantine was due to end, the deadline of the 28th would have passed. Speaking to The University Observer, Bernaducci said: “I tried for a bit to find somebody to get my stuff from my locker, but nobody that I was comfortable with getting my stuff was in Dublin.”
A spokesperson from Estate services has said to The University Observer, “Students who contacted Estate Services to inform the unit that they were unable to attend campus had their belongings held for them. Other items which we were not requested by students to be held for them were disposed of as is normal practice. In addition, items considered of high-value were also held by Estate Services for students even when the student had not been in touch with Estate Services to request for them to be held for them.” However, this has not been the case for all students.
As Bernaducci could not find anyone to collect her belongings, she reached out to Estate Services asking them to hold onto them if possible, offering to pay to prevent them from being thrown away. She was then told that to do so, they would require a copy of the receipt of her locker rental, which she provided a short time thereafter. She received no further communication from Estate Services until she contacted them to collect the contents of her locker. She told The University Observer “They said ‘We never got your receipt, it’s fine, we threw your stuff out, good luck’. So that’s weird because I sent it.”
As for the binned belongings, Bernaducci claims that staff and students alike in Veterinary Science tried to reclaim the items from the bins after the fact. “There were several classmates who had to go digging through dumpsters to find their stuff. Vet Staff went digging through dumpsters and ended up pulling out a lot of the stuff that Estate Services threw out, so they had to go digging through that too”.
Bernaducci was then put in touch with Denis Moran, who informed her that she sent her receipt a day past the deadline for requesting that belongings be kept. “They never gave me a date to send the receipt by, they just said ‘If you send a receipt we will keep your stuff.’” Bernaducci then attempted to receive a refund of the cost of the locker rental, which was denied. However, she later discovered that several others, including her roommate, had had similar experiences, and were given refunds for the locker rental. Bernaducci approached Estate Services about a refund again, which she was again denied. Following this, she contacted UCDSU, who supported her in challenging Estate Services.
Bernaducci was allowed a refund on the 8th of October.