#WheresMyLevy: Backlash as Maynooth University Scrap Plans for New Student Centre

Maynooth University’s Student Union (MSU) has launched and is continuing with a campaign titled #wheresmylevy, in response to University Management cancelling plans for a new student centre due to the hyperinflation of construction costs, despite it being a key planning development in line with student levy fees paid on an annual basis.

In a recent statement following up from a meeting with management on Tuesday, October 11th, MSU president Niall Daly commented on the progress of the campaign stating that “To date, Maynooth University has not agreed to the demands of the students of Maynooth. Therefore, Maynooth Students’ Union will continue its campaign on these demands”. He also included that he was “incredibly concerned about Maynooth University going on record for TheJournal.ie making misleading claims regarding the history of the student levy in Maynooth”.

According to MSU, the proposed new Student Centre, “[...] as well as two other flagship developments, were to be funded by the student levy.” Students of Maynooth, who have been paying an adjusted student levy fund, collected since September 2015, amounting to millions, which “[...] had the express purpose of constructing student facilities on long overdue timelines and projects,” according to Niall Daly, MSU President.

The Union is calling on Management to fulfil three express demands - that the student levy be frozen at its current rate for a minimum period of five academic years, that they publicly state and honour their commitment to delivering a Student Centre as well as ensuring “transparen[cy] in its communication as to how the student levy is being used [...] and work in good faith with Maynooth Students’ Union and the students of Maynooth to regain their trust.”

On Thursday, October 6th, at 11.11AM, hundreds of students walked out of their lectures in protest in solidarity against the recent decision in a rally led by the USI. A petition created by the Student Union titled ‘MU: Support our Students, Build our Building’ addressed to Simon Harris, Minister for Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science now has over 2800 signatures. Responding to a question in the Dáil, Mr. Harris said that he “hopes a satisfactory decision can be found,” and that “The student levy has not been used or lost in relation to this situation.”

In the original statement issued from the University, Maynooth claimed that “The project has been adversely impacted by rapidly escalating costs, linked to technical construction issues as well as hyperinflation,” yet they remained “committed to providing students with additional spaces for informal learning and gathering that are so important for a vibrant campus experience.”

Gráinne Honer, final year LLB student, stated that “It's unfair on past, present and future students. The foundations were laid. We paid money which is now public money. The way they announced via email came across very last thought. I love being a student here but it has really put a dampener on my last year.”