DCU students stage Walk-Out to protest the cost of living

Muiris O'Cearbhaill

Hundreds of Students gather outside the U building to attend the DCUSU Walk-out Protest

Dublin City University students protested in a planned walk-out at 11:11 this morning. The protesters demanded accessible higher education, additional renters rights and that minimum wage be increased to the living wage.

The demonstration, supported and planned by the DCU Student Union (DCUSU) and Union of Students in Ireland (USI), lasted an 30 mins outside the Student U Building and St.Patrick’s Library.

Thomas O’Dowd, DCUSU President, told The College View, “We’re here today in unity, standing together as one, with staff, students and lecturers walking out against the government and the cost of living crisis.”

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Hundreds of students on Glasnevin Campus showed up after the walk-out, holding signs, some reading “Abolish the Fees”, “No Keys, No Degrees” and “C*nts”. 

O’Dowd opened the demonstration by calling on the Minister for Higher Education, Simon Harris, to further fund Irish institutions. 

Two students spoke about their struggle to find accommodation and being homeless at college. Second year student, Ethan, told the crowd that he had to terminate his accommodation last year after what he described as poor-treatment from his landlord. 

Ethan shared his story as a homeless student and spoke about having to call his local council to request emergency accommodation and being turned away. “I think it’s time for our voices to be heard.” said Ethan after he concluded his emotional speech. 

Ethan telling the crowd about his homeless story and struggle to find accommodation this year

Kate, another second year homeless student, said “It’s not fair on students… we’re studying so much but the government won’t f*cking house us.”

Kate added that she works as much as she can yet still can’t afford “extortionate” rents in the city. Kate said, “I will have to take out a loan that will impact the rest of my life…” in order to pay for accommodation. 

Nathan Murphy, VP for Community and Citizenship, echoed calls from the USI last year to build purpose-built student accommodation. Murphy told the crowd, “Students don’t want gyms or swimming pools… Students just want a place to lie down… students need somewhere to live.”

Murphy also called on the government to introduce legislation to protect students in digs. Closing his remarks claiming, “The government doesn’t care about students. They have proven it time and time again… we’re sick of it.”

The Government announced a €1000 cut to college fees in this year’s budget. O’Dowd believes that this reduction is “a short-term solution to a long-term problem.”

O’Dowd told The College View, “In the Cassells Report in 2016 the Government was advised to invest €600 million into higher education. This year, in the budget, we received €43 million and up to 2021 we got €121 million. We are so far behind from where we need to be…”

O’Dowd announced that no Minister will be invited back to the DCU campus until change is made. Adding, “We haven’t had reform of this system since 2015, and so much has changed since.”

DCUSU and the USI are demanding that the government “take higher education seriously” by providing “affordable, accessible education”. 

DCUSU listed protections for renters, reductions and caps to rent, affordable and purpose built student accommodation as their demands on Instagram this week.

This morning’s walk out is the progression of the USI’s “No Keys No Degrees” and “Cost of College” (previously F**k the Fees) campaigns, which had nationwide coverage last year after members of the USI camped outside the Dáil last September. 

The Cost of College campaign focuses on lowering the overall cost of attending university, with the main goal of abolitioning the Student Contribution Fund. 

The USI claims on their website that “The €1,000 reduction in the Student Contribution Charge is a once off reduction. PhD students are still fighting for a stipend that covers the cost of living.”

The USI Student Walk-Out was carried out in universities nationwide this morning with large crowds in Trinity College Dublin, NUI Galway and Maynooth University.

Below: Livestreamed video from the demonstration today & post-protest interviews and analysis from The College View Editorial Team.

Muiris O’Cearbhaill

Image & Video Credit: Muiris O’Cearbhaill, Louise Hickey, @TheCollegeView on Instagram