Students announce end of TCD occupation

Provost posts tweet saying ‘alternative proposals’ would be considered by TCD board

Students who occupied a building in Trinity College Dublin have announced an end to the protest that began earlier this week over the introduction of supplemental fees.

The occupation, which started in the Dining Hall building in the university’s Front Square on Tuesday morning, was in protest at the introduction of a new fee structure for supplemental examinations.

In a statement issued on Thursday, students said they would vacate the building ahead of a rally in the college at 1pm.

The statement came after Provost Patrick Prendergast issued a tweet saying the college's governing authority would consider alternative proposals at the next meeting of the board. On Wednesday evening, security staff at the university entered the Dining Hall in a bid to prevent more students from accessing the occupied building.

“The rally marks the end of the student occupation of the Dining Hall, with students vacating the Dining Hall just before the rally,” the student statement said.

“The current occupation comes to an end after escalated action from the College yesterday evening which left students inside the building without access to bathroom facilities and no food or water allowed in,” the statement continued.

The students said their campaign would continue. “However, we plan to continue our direct actions until our three demands have been met. We will continue to escalate our protests until our demands our met,” they said.

The college welcomed the decision by the Students’ Union and Graduate Students’ Union to end the occupation.

A statement issued by the college confirmed that the university’s management “has undertaken to consider alternative proposals on supplemental exam fees, modular billing and postgraduate/non EU fees” at the next meeting of the board.

"There has been good dialogue over the past few days and we now have an agreement between students and university management. This will see the protests winding down. The university is now looking forward to renewing student partnership in the coming days and weeks," Vice-Provost Chris Morash said.

The demands of the ‘Take Back Trinity’campaign include the scrapping of proposed supplemental examination fees; the introduction of affordable rental options for students and that student fees not be increased.

The students said the tweet posted by Provost Patrick Prendergast on Wednesday evening in which he said the college would “carefully consider” alternative proposals at the next board meeting was “a step forward”.

Several hundred students gathered in Front Square for a lunchtime rally on Thursday and heard messages of support from speakers including Senator Ivana Bacik and People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett. Newly-elected TCD Graduate Students' Union president Oisín Coulter, outgoing TCD Graduate Students' Union president Shane Collins and TCD Students' Union president Kevin Keane also addressed the rally, relaying the message that the Take Back Trinity campaign would continue.

Security staff entered the building just before 5pm on Wednesday evening and barred students from entering the building. The university said it was concerned that large numbers of non-students had been invited into the building and the increased numbers could result in “unacceptable risks for all concerned”.

A number of locations around the college, including the Examination Hall, were briefly occupied in response after students accused college authorities of refusing protesters access to food and water.

Students said they had been warned that any attempt to open certain internal doors would trip an alarm that would alert a garda emergency response team.