The UCD Students’ Union (UCDSU) recently made the decision to let go of the Housing Officer. They have not yet employed or trained a replacement.
The UCDSU chose not to renew the contracts of several Student Union staff, including the housing officer. The decision was made due to lack of income following the closure of UCDSU shops due to Covid-19.
The former Housing Officer was let go at the end of their contract. They had undertaken specific training programmes in order to offer qualified accommodation advice and support to UCD students. During their time employed by UCDSU, the previous Housing Officer campaigned for student renters, as well as offering students significant support and advice with housing issues and problems.
When asked for comment, UCDSU President Conor Anderson stated that the Students’ Union “have not yet employed a new Housing Officer and will likely be unable to until our finances get back to normal”. Anderson expressed regret at the “sad circumstances” of having to let the Housing Officer go due to the current realities of UCDSU’s “economic crunch”.
Anderson outlined that until a replacement is employed, “housing will fall under the remit of myself and [Welfare Officer]Ruairí Power”, adding that UCDSU will “continue to work closely with our partners in Threshold to provide that advice and advocacy”. This will add a significant increase to Power and Anderson’s responsibilities within UCDSU.
Although now sharing the role of Housing Officer, Anderson admitted that he and Power have not had specific housing advocacy training. However, he added that the Student Union is “in line for more training”.
The need for accommodation support and advice is particularly heightened with the current pandemic. Following UCD’s recent decision to maintain online learning for the remainder of the trimester, many students have found themselves stuck with year-long leases in rented accommodation in Dublin when they could have remained at home, and are now seeking ways to end these leases. Students in UCD accommodation may also need advice as to what exactly they can and can’t do to avoid sanctions, for example, it's common practice for students in accommodation to frequently mingle with other apartments and buildings, and this may now result in sanctions.