Barry Murphy urged students in on-campus accommodation not to pay the next instalment of fees to UCD accommodation at a “Town Hall” meeting today. The meeting, organised by UCDSU, was to address the complaints made by residents over the noise and light pollution from ongoing construction in various sites around the Belfield campus.
A number of issues were highlighted by students living in on campus residences. Among these were that certain students were awarded 25% discounts to their overall fees for living on campus, with no specification as to why they were selected and other were not. Murphy said that this decision was made without consultation from the SU and that they would have suggested that every student affected by given a 10% discount in residential fees for the year.
Residents also reported that the noise levels were having a serious negative impact on their study and health from lack of sleep. Students informed the SU at the meeting, that they were told that the construction workers were supposed to work between the hours of 9am and 5pm, with some stating that they were told between 8:30am and 6pm. However, the issue was raised that construction workers begin their work near the NovaUCD site at 6:45am and that the noise created from this work “affects all the back residences of Glenomena.” Murphy replied “that the official line the SU have received is that we should be encouraging students to get up at 7am.” Several students also reported that they heard a manager using a loudspeaker during the night, to instruct workers.
Noise was only one of the issues raised at the meeting. According to students living in the Glenomena and Roebuck residences, there is a lack of proper ventilation provided to apartments and that the windows have to be left open to prevent the build up of mold, for which residents could be fined by UCD accommodation. The ongoing construction creates a build up of dust in these apartments, which is bad for residents’ health.
Residents in Roebuck received an email weeks ago, informing them that they would have to use the campus libraries for study purposes due to the level of noise generated from the ongoing construction. A resident currently living in Roebuck said that they “still have to pay for a facility they cannot use. We are not guaranteed a seat in the library and the lack of computers makes it even more difficult.”
The construction work is set to continue through reading week and the Christmas exam weeks due to “strict timelines.”
An international student, living in Glenomena, said that when speaking to Residence Administrator, Christine Drummond, about the power problems to her unit, she was told that the “electrics are so bad that a surge protector would cause a fire.” She called for a particular emphasis to be placed on international students as they “cannot go home for the weekend” and are paying higher prices than Irish students to attend UCD.
UCDSU Graduate Officer, Niall Torris, stated at the meeting that when he sat on the Res Review committee last year, they agreed that UCD accommodation should provide students with a reason for the the 25% discount to fees for certain rooms before a student makes the decision to select it.
The SU have launched a petition calling for the UCD residences to offer more reimbursements to residents, improve communications with the students living in residences and create a better walkway and pathway for students in residences to commute to class. Murphy suggested that the SU will seek more rooms on campus to study, which he added “priority given to residents.”
Speaking on the issues raised, Murphy said that residences “opened a can of worms on themselves” and that they “had no planning permission to pour concrete late at night.” When asking the room what they wanted to achieve from this petition, a large majority of those in attendance said that they would be happy to receive a reimbursement and “just get on.”
Volunteers will be going around to the Ashfield, Roebuck Castle and Merville residences this evening, collecting signatures for their petition. The SU are set to release a press statement later today that includes images and video clips of how construction is affecting students in residences.
The SU will also be lobby the Dun Laoighaire/Rathdown County Council to enforce the planning permission legislation on Rattigan’s construction company. These complaints are to be submitted to the County Council in two weeks, according to Barry Murphy. Murphy is also meeting with Tadgh Corcoran, the Head of Estates, on next Monday.