More than 300 unauthorised gatherings detected at university residences

Largest party in first semester at UCD accommodation was 24 people in one apartment

University College Dublin, which has the largest campus residences in the country, recorded 191 unauthorised gatherings in the period. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/The Irish Times

University College Dublin, which has the largest campus residences in the country, recorded 191 unauthorised gatherings in the period. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/The Irish Times

 

More than 300 unauthorised gatherings and parties were recorded on university campus residences in the first semester of the academic year, new figures show.

Data released to the Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act by each of Ireland’s universities showed that 347 unauthorised gatherings took place from September to December.

University College Dublin, which has the largest campus residences in the country, recorded 191 unauthorised gatherings in the period. The largest party was 24 people in one apartment, while the average gathering size was six people.

UCD students living in residences who were found to have attended such gatherings were sanctioned with warning letters, fines ranging from €25 to €250 and a number of incidents were referred to be dealt with under the student discipline procedure.

UCD Students’ Union president Conor Anderson said he had represented several residents at disciplinary hearings and he took the view that “to put the blame entirely on students is a little bit short sighted”.

“It was not a good public health intervention on behalf of UCD to bring students back to campus residences. We’re talking about 19-21 year-olds living together on campus in the middle of lockdowns. I don’t know what the university expected,” he said.

He noted the opinion of students on campus towards the public health guidelines was “divided” with “many in favour and compliant”. However, he said there were also students “who think the rules don’t apply to them or who don’t care, and who are willing to put their social life ahead of public health advice”.

Trinity College Dublin recorded four unauthorised gatherings in the campus residences, with the number of attendees ranging between four and eight people. Students were required to pay fines of up to €200 and to write letters of apology.

Maynooth University said that while residents were “advised of their responsibilities under the Covid-19 regulations and how to live as a household”, throughout the semester the campus patrol team had occasion to interact with groups 134 times for unauthorised guests in their apartments.

The majority of these were for one or more guests in their apartment and 20 were for “gatherings”. The sanctions imposed for Covid-19 violations at Maynooth included breach of license to reside, making the person ineligible for on campus accommodation in future years.

The University of Limerick found 10 cases of unauthorised gatherings. The university said it was aware of “a number of UL students who have been sanctioned by An Garda Síochána for attending unauthorised gatherings; ranging from fines to anti-social behaviour notifications.”

University College Cork received reports of eight parties in campus accommodation buildings for the same period. Forty UCC students were identified as having attended the parties, some of whom were involved in “multiple gatherings”. Several students were sanctioned by the university.

National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) did not release data regarding gatherings on campus residences as the campus accommodation is under the auspices of a private limited company, not subject to FOI. Dublin City University’s campus residences are also a separate commercial company.

The Garda has issued its 20,000th fine for breaches of the Covid-19 regulations, including 3,500 fines handed out for organising or attending house parties.