UCD have granted partial amnesty to students’ to attend the Global Climate Strike this Friday, 20th September. There will be a rally in the Atrium of the Student Centre at 10:30am, before staff and students travel to Custom House Quay for 12pm, to join other universities in the demonstration.
In an email seen by the University Observer, Deputy President, Registrar and Vice President For Academic Affairs, Mark Rogers, emailed lecturers and staff in UCD, stating that it was at the discretion of academic staff to permit their students to be absent from class without penalty. However, the email does not state what provisions are being made for staff who also wish to attend the strike. When approached for comment as to whether academic staff would be granted similar amnesty for also attending the strike, Rogers did not respond.
The strike is being supported by the Students’ Union. Katie O’Dea, Campaigns and Engagement officer, helped to collect signatures for the petition submitted to UCD to give striking students amnesty. Speaking to The University Observer, O’Dea said; “the climate crisis we’re facing is the single biggest issue of the century. Governments around the world including our own are yet to react appropriately. Along with over a dozen UCD societies, support of over a thousand students and staff in UCD, we are supporting and joining the school students’ Global Climate Strike this Friday to demand action from the Irish government.”
President Joanna Siewierska commented on the strike, saying; “In just 3 days, over 1000 students signed a petition to ask for an amnesty for students and staff to miss class for the strike, which has been granted by the Registrar. We’re delighted to see support from the University management for the strike, which is so important for both staff and students.”
There has been widespread confusion amongst societies who are currently partaking in Freshers’ Week, in particular in relation to the Freshers’ Tent, as to whether there will be penalties to face for them attending the strike. Societies that have confirmed they will be taking part in the strike are Eco UCD, UCD Horticultural Society, UCD Extinction Rebellion, UCD Labour, Social Democrats UCD, UCD Young Greens and the Socialist Workers Network. Earlier in the week, before amnesty had been granted by the university, many societies claim they were informed by members of the Societies Council that if they left their stands on Friday to strike, then they would have their grant money cut. As the week progressed, there was some confusion in the tent, with some societies saying they had been told the opposite. On Thursday, in an email circulated around many of auditors, and seen by the University Observer, Chair of the Societies Council, James Alkayed, ensured that no “society grants would be cut directly” over students attending the strike, but that “Freshers’ Week regulations must be adhered to.” Rules state that during Freshers’ Week, a society must have people manning their tables for at least half of the day. If they do not comply with this, they may lose their space. When approached for comment, University Societies Officer, Richard Butler, did not respond.