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crowded halls More than 300 unauthorised student gatherings on campus during first term, new data shows

The largest party involved 24 people in one apartment, while the average gathering hosted around six people


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More than 300 unauthorised gatherings and parties were recorded in university campus accommodation during the first term of the academic year, new data shows.

Figures released by The Irish Times show that 347 gatherings took place in college campus residences from September to December in 2020.

University College Dublin (UCD), Ireland’s largest university campus with more than 3,000 accommodation spots, reported 191 unauthorised gatherings during this period. The largest party involved 24 people in one apartment, while the average gathering hosted around six people.

Students living on campus who were found to have attended one of these gatherings were given warning letters, issued fines ranging from €25 to €250, and some were ordered to appear at disciplinary hearings.

UCD Students’ Union President Conor Anderson, who represented many students at these hearings, said that while he acknowledges that some residents have broken public health restrictions, the blame cannot be entirely put on young people.

“To put the blame entirely on students is a little bit short sighted. It was not a good public health intervention on behalf of UCD to bring students back to campus residences. We’re talking about 19-21 year-olds living together on campus in the middle of lockdowns. I don’t know what the university expected,” he said.

Trinity College Dublin recorded four instances of large gatherings in on-campus accommodation, while the University of Limerick found ten cases of unauthorised congregating, and University College Cork (UCC) reported eight parties.

Maynooth University told The Irish Times that the campus patrol team were forces to break up 134 gatherings during the first semester, but the majority of cases involved only one or more unauthorised guest in campus residences while 20 incidents involved parties.

Both the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) and Dublin City University (DCU) declined to release data regarding gatherings in campus residences as they are managed by a separate commercial company.

However, several complaints have been made against young people found gathering beside DCU in Albert College Park this weekend.

Gardaí were forced to attend the scene of the “incident” and disperse crowds around midnight on Thursday after receiving complaints about groups drinking alcohol and leaving litter behind.

However, it is understood that the university has no power to sanction crowds gathering off campus.

Speaking to the Sunday World, the Deputy Lord Mayor of Dublin, Mary Callaghan, has said we need to give young people a bit of “leeway” but that the littering was a problem.

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She said: “My own feeling is that, on the one hand it's great to see people out and about, but it's very important that they do continue to obey the rules with regard to social distancing,” she said.

“Litter is obviously unpleasant and particularly on that scale. It makes it very unpleasant for people using the park the next day.

“But I would say that that age group, students, teenagers, people in their early 20s, have really experienced a lot of difficulty over the Covid period.

“That group of people, more so than any other group, is at an age where it's a very natural and important thing to mix with others of their age and to go out and have fun with their peers.

“So yes, it's a big problem, but we also have to just try and think about what they've been through as well and find some way that they can actually go out and enjoy their summer, and enjoy the fact that the lockdown is beginning to lift. But also they need to respect the rules for the sake of everybody.”

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