Lecturers in the UCD School of English, Drama and Film have advised students attending lectures held at the O’Kane Centre for Film Studies to leave their classes in small groups, following problems lighting the area during darkness hours.
Although there is street lighting around the laneway up to O’Kane centre, it has been non-functioning since the beginning of the semester. A spokesperson for the University stated that, “Buildings & Services are currently in the process of returning the lights in question to full working order. The University encourages all students to remain vigilant about personal safety on campus at all times.”
Used for screenings for third year and post-graduate students, the Centre – more locally known as ‘the Observatory’ – is located off a laneway adjacent to Roebuck Road, and is quite isolated from campus.
Many classes in the Conservatory are scheduled to take place during evening hours, meaning that the lack of lighting has become a safety issue for both staff and students. One Film Studies student criticised the inactivity of UCD’s Buildings & Services Department in addressing the problems, telling The University Observer it was quite probable that “someone could easily fall and hurt themselves in the dark.” The lighting problem does not solely affect UCD students, as many residents from the surrounding areas take walks or jog in the vicinity.
Students’ Union President, Gary Redmond, was quick to assure students that their safety was a top priority for the SU. He stated that “obviously the safety of students is paramount, and there should be an adequate amount of lighting and security in all public areas on campus.” He reported to have “been in touch with Buildings & Services regarding the lighting at the Observatory, and they assure me that this is being investigated and shouldn’t have occurred.”
The Frank O’Kane Centre for Film Studies was built as a magnetic observatory in the grounds of Trinity College in 1838. The observatory was dismantled to make way for further development of the Trinity College campus and rebuilt in Belfield between 1974 and 1975. It was converted to a film screening area in 2003 after a donation from businessman and philanthropist, Dr Frank O’Kane.