A LARGE majority of UCD students have voted in favour of a one-day shutdown of the university, which is scheduled to take place on Monday, 30th March. Over 82 per cent of students voted in favour of the referendum which took place during the Students’ Union (SU) sabbatical elections. The motion was proposed and campaigned for by the group Free Education for Everyone (FEE).
SU Campaigns and Communications Officer, Dan O’Neill, stated that the date was chosen to coincide with a one day work stoppage by the Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU). Mr O’Neill explained that the students planned to have “our shutdown on the same day [as the staff protest] because it will obviously be easier” to implement.
FEE member, Julian Brophy, said that he was “very pleased” with the result and was hopeful that all third-level institutions would partake in the shutdown.“I think it’s great… if we don’t do this now, the chances of fighting fees are going to be extremely limited,” said Mr Brophy. “Hopefully if there’s a good turnout on the day, which I’m pretty sure there will be, then the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) will follow, and call shutdowns in the institutes of technology and all the other colleges across the country.”
Although the actual details for the day have yet to be finalised, Mr O’Neill said he would like to “do something visual so that students come out to it”, while Mr Brophy hopes that there will be awareness events, public meetings, protests and rallies held to help engage with students.
When questioned on the language used in their campaign in which students were called an ‘easy target’ for the Government, Mr Brophy felt that such statements made their campaign stronger and convinced students to support the motion.
“What we are trying to show students is that we are, sadly, an easy target. We don’t have needed backing from other sectors of society,” Mr Brophy explained. “Students are seen as apathetic so we definitely are an easy target and I think it’s only fair to represent it the way it is.”
Vice-President for Students, Dr Martin Butler acknowledged the student protest, adding that is presented a “challenge”, for those in the university and expressed his hope that the campus would remain a safe environment on the day of the shutdown.
Over 5,150 students voted in the referendum which took place on Wednesday and Thursday, 4th and 5th March.