Thursday 23 May 2019

Trinity students learn the hard way that acting up doesn't pay

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

STUDENTS in Trinity College have been fined for urinating, partying and climbing the college walls -- under its unique disciplinary policy.

The college has specific bans in place for a wide range of activities such as walking on the carefully manicured lawns, using Tippex in the library or reserving a seat there by throwing down your jacket.

Many students currently in the college have fallen foul of the system, with fines of up to €500 in place for various offences.

Fourteen current Trinity students have been fined €100 for urinating in the college grounds and 10 have been fined €250 for climbing the gates or walls, which surround the campus.

There has also been a crackdown on student parties in the residences in Trinity, which are only allowed if five days' advance notice is given. Around 52 current students have been hauled over the coals for holding "unauthorised parties" and 12 of them were fined. But none lost their party privileges.

Trinity's disciplinary policy -- outlined in its general regulations -- is unique among universities in the number of specific rules it contains.

University College Cork (UCC), University College Dublin (UCD), NUI Maynooth and NUI Galway use far more broad-based disciplinary policies. However, NUI Maynooth does impose a campus speed limit of 15 miles per hour on student cyclists and UCC feels obliged to warn its students that bringing an "offensive weapon" on campus is a serious offence.

Unions of Students of Ireland (USI) president Gary Redmond said most colleges had a standard disciplinary offence of bringing the college into disrepute rather than listing out specific offences.

He said this was broad enough to deal even with new offences such as student bullying on Facebook and Twitter.

"We don't have a huge problem with discipline right across the country in our universities and colleges. You're talking about a very, very small number of minor incidents," he said.

Although student unions handle disciplinary cases individually, USI is usually contacted about most of them for advice. Mr Redmond said there had been fewer than ten incidents notified per year.

"Most of the incidents tend to focus around campus residences, because obviously when you have 3,000 or 4,000 people living there for the full year, minor issues come up as they do in any other aspect of life," he said.

But the information released shows that the number of Trinity students suspended or expelled by the college's disciplinary committee is extremely low.

Just one student currently at Trinity College has been suspended. The college refuses to release details of the offence committed by the individual, saying it could lead to the person's identification.

No current students have been disciplined for academic plagiarism, even though the college uses the specialist "Turnitin.com" software system.

This allows lecturers to check work submitted against billions of webpages, academic journals and student essays to ensure that it is original.

The Trinity official in charge of discipline is the Junior Dean Dr Tim Trimble, who interviews students accused of committing minor offences.

A Trinity College spokeswoman said the fact there were 16,747 students on the campus had to be remembered when assessing the number of fines.

Irish Independent

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