The Student Legal Service (SLS) in UCD has once again called for changes in the license to reside, the document which substitutes as a lease for students living on UCD residence, after an incident on the Blackrock Campus.
The incident arose as part of a cleaning and storage issue at the campus. According to UCD Students’ Union Welfare Officer, Mícheál Gallagher: “A number of students had been emailing me concerned over an email sent which essentially said that there kitchen utensils were to be disposed of, if they weren’t collected. The system as it operates in Blackrock Halls is that, between 10.00 & 12.00 everyday, cleaners come in and clean up all the kitchens. However, if there are pots or pans left around, they move them into boxes and leave them in a different location.”
The residents can collect the utensils from storage, but management in Blackrock Halls reports that some of these items had not been collected and were now a health and safety issue.
“They’ve essentially issued the ultimatum that if not collected by Monday at 5pm, that the resident’s material will be disposed of,” says Gallagher. “A number of residents got in contact with me, quite alarmed because there’s no reference to seizing a person’s item under the licence to reside.”
Chairperson of the SLS Patrick Fitzgerald says: “Nowhere in the license does it say that UCD has the power to seize personal possessions in this manner. The constitutional right to property under Article 40.3.2 was infringed in this instance. This incident further shows the need for systematic reform of UCD license to reside and UCD should now consider re-drafting it as a lease.”
This is the third time that the SLS have called for the abolition of the license to reside, having criticised it earlier in the year due to changes allowing residential assistants to film inside students’ apartments, and later saying that it takes away the legal rights of students. The SLS claim that a conventional lease system is the way residence should operate.
“If UCD Residences adopted a lease, students would enjoy a right of appeal to the PRTB. This would allow students to challenge a decision of UCD cheaply in an independent forum. This would ensure greater transparency than we have now and ensure students enjoy rights as tenants. The present situation where the appeal process is operated by UCD has led to an arbitrary system that truly lacks proper procedure, transparency and independence.”
The incident at the Blackrock campus has since been resolved. According to Gallagher: “I put forward a proposal that the deadline will be extended past Monday and that also instead of the items being disposed of, I could arrange a collection with SVP, so taking it as a ‘if residents don’t collect it by a certain date, we’ll take it as a kind donation to SVP.’”