Irish universities combat student breaches of public health guidelines

Emma Nevin

Eleven University College Cork (UCC) students have been temporarily suspended pending a hearing decision, UCC has confirmed.

The students are facing disciplinary action from the college’s Campus Watch group after being accused of breaking public health guidelines.

Before UCC students returned for the semester, the college published a community charter stating that both students and staff will abide by all current public health guidelines in relation to indoor and outdoor gatherings, including house parties.

Interim UCC President John O’Halloran told The Echo, “there are student rules, we have Campus Watch, a process where we investigate and we make a determination and we either execute fines or they meet with the academic leadership or they may meet with me- there’s a tiered response to whatever happens and UCC will take it very seriously.¨

UCC students who break college rules for the first time may be given the option of an informal resolution, which may include completing the in-house educational Bystander Intervention Programme and the Alcohol Education Programme or completing just one of these two programmes and paying a €25 charitable contribution instead.

NUI Galway (NUIG) also landed on the national news during their Fresher’s week, following videos showing large crowds of students gathered together in Spanish Arch emerged on social media. Gardaí in Galway also responded to a dozen reports of house parties in nearby areas on the same night.

Commenting on the events, Galway City Mayor Mike Cubbard said, “the Gardaí have agreed to work with the college and give them addresses of houses where they have been called because of parties, and then the college will make contact with landlords.”

¨It is not about being a killjoy but when you have 45 people coming out of a party in a two-bedroom apartment at 1.30am as we saw last night, then clearly it is a big problem and something which could easily see us heading back into lockdown,¨ the mayor continued.

NUIG has not reported any sanctions against individual students.

DCU has also not reported any disciplinary action against students for breaking public health guidelines so far, this academic year although common areas in university accommodation were closed off to prevent gatherings.

The college’s code of conduct states that ¨disorderly conduct, including conduct outside the campuses that would be likely to bring the University into disrepute, may result in the initiation of disciplinary procedures under this Code. ¨

The code also states that any activity, whether committed on or off campus, which adversely impacts, or is likely to adversely impact, the reputation of the University, its students or members of staff may result in disciplinary action.

Emma Nevin 

Image Credit: Tofman DJ