THE FEE charged to students who appeal residence fines is to be reduced to €50. It has also been proposed that the appeal fee will now be charged after, as opposed to before, an unsuccessful appeal.
Despite welcoming the decrease, Students’ Union (SU) President, Aodhán Ó Deá maintains that €50 is too expensive for students. “To honest we would like it to be a lot less. We believe that €50 is far too severe. I wouldn’t be totally be against a €10 or €20 fee, it would discourage people from appealing but [the SU] would like it being free.”
Mr Ó Deá has also indicated that students who were charged the fee for the appeal or fined for breaching the code before the new regulations were circulated may be reimbursed if the regulations are found to be unlawful. “I think that there’s a sentiment that those who, in the first week for example, they shouldn’t be fined because they generally didn’t know about it.”
Explaining that he does not consider the appeal fee as “part of the penalty”, Vice-President for Students, Dr Martin Butler stated that the €50 fine “is just to prevent scurrilous appeals. I don’t see it as impediment to the students.”
Mr Ó Deá stated that he is currently looking into getting the legality of the document questioned by a legal team, regarding the fairness of procedures that is implicit in the document. “The SU were at the Residence Committee and… for two hours where we went in depth about the various problems about the document. It is not us who are concerned about the regulations.”
Praising the new appeals system, Dr Butler stated that he believes “that a student has the right to articulate their case, we have a new system now where students are taken away from the intimidation of a face-to-face meeting. It is now solely based on written input from the management and the students.”
Dr Martin Butler praised the regulations stating that it adds “transparency” to rules relating to university residences. “The aim of this document was to provide transparency. It defines what is acceptable and unacceptable. I am delighted with the whole document. There is a procedure in there dealing with fees, where if a student feels aggrieved by the decision to fine or revoke licence to reside they can make a fair appeal.”
The ‘Managing breaches in Residents Rules’ document was enforced from the beginning of semester one. It contains a compilation of codes of conduct for students living in on-campus residences and lays out a system for implementing fines, as well as the method of appealing these fines. The conditions for inflicting and appeals punitive fees were contested by the SU, from their inception.