A referendum will be put to University College Dublin (UCD) students on whether a levy towards the student centre will continue past 2023, the university’s student newspaper The University Observer reported on March 8th.
The announcement came after a petition to hold the referendum gained “over a thousand signatures”, according to UCD Rowing Captain Max Murphy. He also said the current funding method “has provided incredible facilities for us and support for clubs, societies and UCD SU [Students’ Union]”.
According to the UCD SU constitution, any petition containing signatures from 3.5 per cent of the total registered membership require the union to call a referendum. The referendum will be held on April 1st and 2nd.
Murphy, who supports the “Yes” campaign to continue the levy, has said that “every student” he spoke too also supported the “development of UCD’s already top-class facilities”.
Nominated speakers from both sides of the referendum will be given an opportunity to speak at the executive election hustings, which coincide with the referendum.
Just before the referendum was announced the UCD Director of Student Service and Facilities Dominic O’Keefe had apologised for the circulation of a document which told students to support the extension of the student centre levy in any possible referendum.
The document dubbed “Student Centre Levy Policy Referendum”, which was described as threatening, was said to be drafted by Student Services along with students on the “Yes” campaign, according to UCD Head of Services Jason Masterson. Max Murphy had presented the document to sports club auditors on March 4th.
The current levy is €254, which was set in place to fund the original construction of the student centre and was only to be in place until 2023. The proposed continuation of the levy is said to be used to fund an expansion to the student centre and surrounding sports facilities.
UCD SU President Barry Murphy cautioned the union to consider its stance on the continuation of the levy carefully, especially as the Student Services are “putting pressure” on the union to support the levy. Max Murphy has stated that he was “not aware” of any other viable funding options, saying it is unlikely the university has excess funds.
Between 2006 and 2018 UCD students have paid €43 million through the Student Centre levy. The total costs of the centre was €52.9 million.
The levy was first introduced in 1998, following the approval of the “Old Student Centre” and has risen consistently since then, rising by €190.50 since 2006 alone. The original expected cost of the “New Student Centre” was €35 million.
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