Are elitist attitudes a problem in Irish Universities?

Clara Kelly

Trinity College Dublin photographed on a sunny day.

Trinfess number 647 reads: “Can’t be the only one who gets uncomfortable when they hear a north-Dublin accent in the library or people wearing a tracksuit. Clutch my stuff just a bit tighter.”

The Facebook page Trinfess is a page liked by 2422 people at the time of writing this article, where students can share anonymous submissions about life as a student at Trinity College.

And while the page is usually filled with harmless musings about life as a Trinity student, this particular post that has since been removed from the page. It raises the question, do classist attitudes still exist in larger universities?

The page now skips directly from Trinfess #645 to #652 which reads “lately I’m liking this page less and less” because it’s being used to complain about “certain lifestyles, groups, and societies.” Which, given the current situation, strikes me as a tad ironic.

This removed post was published on March 30th and on March 31st Trinfess itself released a statement on its page, stating: “We’ve noticed a recent surge in malevolent, targeted submissions and so have decided to clamp down.”

They later added that these posts would no longer be published as this page was “solely set up for confessions/witty observations/ general life at college” in other words “light-hearted repartee that’s just for fun.”

But did this “light-hearted repartee” bring to light a larger issue? An article from December 2018 for the Irish Times showed affluent students are 14 times more likely to attend universities than their disadvantaged counterparts.

So for the students from low-income areas who do make it to these institutions, and began to sit in classrooms filled with peers from wealthier areas, it could be argued that the struggle is not yet over.

Being from Tallaght myself, I heard the occasional joke or jab I introduce myself, and it would be accompanied by a “well, you don’t have the accent.” Otherwise, I haven’t experienced anything really sinister, although that might have been because I don’t have the accent.

Luke Coulton Dylan, a Trinity Politics student from Tallaght, said “I can understand why people from places like mine (Jobstown) would be deterred from places like Trinity because of the stereotype of wealth that surrounds it” but noted, “I’ve found absolutely no grounding in it.”

Meanwhile, Naomi Carrie, a DCU communications student, said  “I feel like I personally wouldn’t experience the classism as like heavy”, adding “it’s because I don’t feel like I have a strong Tallaght accent.”

Overall, It seems to me that classism in Irish Universities seems to be much the same as classism in Irish society. Unfortunately, of course, when you have a melting pot of elites, working class and those from low-income areas, some people will always feel and perhaps act entitled.

Snide comments and jokes seem more prevalent than outright discrimination, however, when it comes to classism, some people still clearly fear what they don’t know, even if they do it in secret, hiding behind the anonymous safety, of a Trinity facebook page.

By Clara Kelly 

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