The Central Societies Committee (CSC) has said that societies will “hopefully” be able to hold outdoor events on campus from September 20th, with only online events to be held until then.
In the email to societies today, CSC officers and staff said: “We are currently pursuing locations to be designated as bookable spaces so that hopefully, on-campus outdoor activity can begin from September 20th, alongside a socially-distanced Freshers Fair.”
“The Fair would take place over three days, socially-distanced across campus, with one person at a time per stand”, they said, adding that the location of stands will be decided once the fair is approved by College.
Students will still be able to sign up to societies from September 6th, when freshers’ week begins for all except first year students. Societies can run online events from then. However, the CSC is not preparing for indoor events for the foreseeable future.
“As society life is currently subject to social, not teaching restrictions, we will not be allowed to run on-campus, indoor events for the foreseeable future. Society activity off-campus may take place in accordance with government guidelines”, the email said.
“Under current College restrictions, students are unable to access campus except for timetabled in-person events. As part of advocating for an in-person Freshers’ Fair and outdoor society activity, we are exploring options for this barrier to be overcome”, the CSC also added.
“We understand the challenges differing levels of restrictions for society events versus teaching events will likely present to society committees and students alike and have voiced this concern to College.”
Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) is to erect a marquee on the cricket pitch beside the Pavillion Bar (the Pav) for students to use.
The space will be bookable by individual students during the day and will act as event space at night for TCDSU, clubs and societies.
At a virtual town hall meeting last week, societies were given details of the CSC’s proposal regarding this year’s freshers’ fair.
Chair of the CSC Ben McConkey said the plans are dependent on “trickle-down responsibility”, as the CSC awaits guidance from College, and College awaits guidance from the government.
Earlier this month, a survey was circulated by the CSC which asked societies for their preferences for a resumption of society activities. The results, the CSC said, informed its draft proposal.
Respondents were almost unanimous in their preference for a hybrid approach, where there would be a mix of online and limited in-person events.
The CSC’s proposal for a resumption of on-campus society activities is dependent on one-metre social distancing being permitted.
McConkey explained that the group will seek to run freshers’ week from September 20th, with a mix of online and in-person events throughout.
At the meeting, the committee said that under its proposed plans, every indoor space would be given a maximum capacity, accounting for social distancing of one metre. These numbers will be made available “as soon as possible”, it said.
Various other spaces are planned to be made available to societies, including the New Square marquee breakout spaces, which will remain in place for at least the first term, and the Rose Garden situated between the Museum Building and the rugby pitch.
The committee proposed that, instead of requiring a library booking or a pre-booked gym session to be allowed entry to campus, students should only be required to show their student ID.
“Otherwise how else can you attend in person society events?”, said McConkey. “Unless we have a lot of false library bookings.”
Speaking about the possibility of different freshers’ weeks for different year groups, he said it would be unreasonable to ask societies to run this due to the amount of work involved. Furthermore, he said, the planned freshers week, as always, is not only for first year sign-ups but for all students.
Provost Linda Doyle confirmed last week that the planned “orientation week” for second years will serve as a freshers’ week for second-, third- and fourth-year students.
The CSC’s Back to Societies week will take place next week, which will include workshops and talks on topics including committee structure and inclusivity. The aim of the week is to help students run societies – which “will no doubt be harder this year than ever before”.