Tomorrow Maynooth University students will protest over poor facilities on campus that a number of students feel hinder their ability to learn.
We spoke to Liam, one of the campaigners behind the Stand for Seating! movement, who shared with us why students have decided to protest during the Maynooth open day:
This rise in student numbers has resulted in the common room, an area for commuters, and the bean bag room - a relaxation area in the library - being used as lecture areas instead. This is on top of the demolition of the bunker, a mature student’s common area, two summers ago.
According to Liam, the SU has failed in their attempts to negotiate with the university. Students have no choice but to sit on the ground during lunch as there's not enough seating made available. The computer facilities cannot accommodate the growing number of students and students have to wait in "lengthy queues" to access a computer. Lack of power supply in common areas means students are left with dead laptops and phones, which impedes their work. Deadlines are approaching with students stressed about working on their assignments.
Liam stressed that the gym facilities on campus have run into disrepair and not enough machines are available, alongside a tiny weights room which, according to Liam, has been this way for years. A new gym will not be open until 2019.
So far the student movement has been well received by students and staff but Liam is disappointed that the SU will not fund the demonstration:
Two days after we decided on having some sort of action 32 people turned up to a meeting on November 13th and since then we have been getting the word out there... The students union decided against funding the demonstration for fear it would damage their diplomatic efforts. Some people think we have been hasty in our approach but we have seen this go on too long and we know it’s time for action. After setting up the movement and a plan for the protest we contacted the university president Philip Nolan’s office but they have failed to reply. This is a clear effort to silence us and disregard our issues. Our union claim to have had intense negations with the university but they have only managed to get two additional microwaves put into an existing student area, which was rebranded as a replacement for our lost spaces.
Liam hopes that the protest will catch the university's attention and encourage them to put a plan into action for the students of Maynooth:
This protest aims to get the officials of the university’s attention. We need better facilities and we will fight until we get that. We need 200 more study seats and 50 open access computers. We also desire more access to electricity and for repairs to be completed around the campus.
The protest is expected to have over 300 students in attendance tomorrow, November 24th. Liam is asking students who cannot make tomorrow's protest to "make their voices heard" and email the offices of the university with a complaint about the facilities. Students will meet on the green between the arts block and the John Hume building from 10 to 2pm. To read more information about the protest and what to expect click on the Maynooth Student Protest page here.