The re-introduction of stands for Students’ Union and other societies’ activities in the Newman Building is expected this week. The stands had previously been banned in the Arts Block after construction last year led to Building and Services declaring them unsafe.
“Last year they redid the Arts block, they put fire doors everywhere, and with that the Safety Office barred the use of any stands in the Arts Block, and any student activities in the building with any tables, and barred the handing out of materials because it was supposedly a fire hazard,” said UCDSU Arts Convenor, Declan Clear. “[They said] the building had too many students and not enough space, and that it was unsafe. The reasons, in my opinion, weren’t very fair.”
With the removal of permission to set up tables and stands, Clear says that societies struggled to stage any activities in the Arts Block, citing class rep recruitment as particularly problematic.
“We started to lobby Services to get stands in the Arts Block so we could do tea mornings for students,” says Clear, who said it required long negotiations with Buildings and Services, as well as the support from the Vice-Principals of Arts, to have the permission to set up stands re-instated.
“Eventually they conceded and so we got permission to set up tables in the SUAS area of the Arts Block… Hopefully this week we’re going to be able to have a free tea session for Arts students in the Arts Block.”
Clear cites the lack of activity in the Arts block as the reason events like this are important, with the Newman Building having seen the closure of The Trap, as well as the moving of the DramSoc theatre and society offices to the new Student Centre.
The Arts Block also has a public seating problem, with only 245 seats for the approximate 8,000 people who pass through daily, and with the new Student Centre on the opposite side of campus, Clear hopes that activities at the stalls will “bring a bit of life back into the building.”
Clear plans to have a free tea session in the Arts Block this week, something he says he will carry forward into semester two, along with a Book Appeal, where donated books will be sold, and the profits given to charity.