On September 21st, a group of students met for a town hall discussion focused on planning future actions to follow up on the protest held at the Book of Kells last week. The demonstration was held to protest the increase of campus accommodation rents, with College putting a 2% maximum rental increase in place amidst a cost of living and housing crisis.
The group agreed that the blockading of the Book of Kells building was “successful”, particularly in reference to the high level of media attention and student support that the protest achieved.
It was agreed at the meeting that the next steps for the group were to grow the movement and maintain student momentum by hosting more actions. The proposed actions include organising a rent strike within campus accommodation in the second semester of the college year and continuing to occupy more college buildings.
Lázló Molnárfi, President of Trinity College Dublin’s Students Union and Chairperson of Students4Change, went on to describe the meeting he had with Provost Linde Doyle that ensued after the Book of Kells protest. Molnárfi stated that the reversal of the rent increase “was a very small demand” that College “would not commit to”.
He further stated that “she was not happy. She gave out to me. She said that what we are doing is essentially not engaging in the process. The process of this year’s rent review … means interacting with the financial services committee … that’s a biassed process stacked against [the students] and she recognised it”.
Student activist Jenny Maguire said the point of the group’s actions are “to make everyone’s lives a bit easier, and have a world that works for us”. She further added: “A lot of students don’t realise that College has a specific office for making profit … the majority of students are commuting, and many of them are working, they don’t have time to be thinking about the status quo.”
Molnárfi suggested that the group have more in mind than challenging rent increases. He said, “slowly but surely we will grow and then we’ll demand something like affordable housing”. The group also discussed the inclusion of other Dublin universities in future protests.
Another student activist chimed in that following up from the protest “the most important thing now is to build momentum and build the confidence of the students”.