Students expressed their disappointment and frustration today at the low level of face to face teaching they are likely to have this semester, at a Zoom town hall organised by Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) Zoom town hall meeting focussed on re-opening issues.
TCDSU President Leah Keogh said the forum would be “a listening exercise” for the union and that the sabbatical officers would take students’ concerns to College.
She also thanked the student leaders of Students4Change and TCD F2F, who wrote an open letter and petition respectively calling for more in-person teaching and fee reductions.
The meeting was attended by approximately 100 students. Of the more than 20 who spoke, all detailed discontent at the level of in-person teaching they are due to receive this semester, which is lower than many had hoped.
Keogh said that because “schools have been afforded autonomy”, on the format for lecture and tutorial formats “there’s no consistency across the board” in terms of how much in-person teaching is being scheduled.
Students4Change Chairperson and second-year philosophy, political science, economics and sociology (PPES) student Laszlo Molnarfi called for a protest not “just for the issue of in-person lectures or return the campus, but the general administrative ineptitude … and the blatant disregard for students’ needs”.
He said students have been forced to pay “exorbitant amounts of money for what was essentially a Netflix streaming service”.
Molnarfi later called for students not to blame lecturers for the problems they are facing.
Some students who spoke expressed their dissatisfaction with lecturers re-using old lecture recordings. Teaching staff have said that prerecorded lectures take a significant amount of time to record and edit.
However, students pointed to modules for which the content could have changed since the recordings were made, such as the “Vaccines – Friend or Foe?” elective.
Charlie Molony, who runs the TCD F2F Instagram page, said the use of old recording was “just [like] YouTube”.
“You can’t ask questions, you can’t interact at all”, he said.
Keogh and TCDSU Education Officer Bev Genocky occasionally reiterated the thoughts of students, assuring them that the issues raised, and specific schools that students are complaining about will be flagged with the administration.
“There was a reasonable expectation that [lectures with] under 50 [students] would be in-person and that hasn’t been the case, it’s been nowhere near the case”, Keogh said.
Third-year nursing student Alex said that her course will not be on campus at all this semester, despite all being fully vaccinated in order to comply with hospital regulations for placements.
Several students, including from the biological and biomedical sciences and chemical sciences courses said they had been told their classes would remain online at least until the end of the semester.
Genocky said that in conversations with Áine Kelly, the associate dean for undergraduate science education, she had been informed that such claims were untrue and meant to prevent overpromising.
Genockey also announced that the union will be releasing a student survey this Sunday related to the problems discussed at the town hall.
Yesterday, Provost Linda Doyle committed to removing all social distancing in College after reading week.
In a video posted to Twitter, she said: “We are having issues especially about in-person teaching and learning. I want to assure you we are working through those issues and focusing on finding solutions.”
“After October 22nd, the country will be open in full. That brings us up to reading week. So when you come back after Reading week we will have no social distancing”, she added.
It is unclear what this will mean for in-person lectures.