By Ellen O’Donoghue and Paddy Henry
Twenty-two students were sanctioned by the University for breach of Covid-19 guidelines between the beginning of semester one on September 28th and November 30th, SIN has learned.
Through a request made under the Freedom of Information Act, it was revealed that during the opening months of semester one, and throughout the Level 5 restrictions implemented on October 20th, a multitude of students faced disciplinary action from the university.
Out of these twenty-two students, five sanctions were dismissed with no further action. Seventeen were issued with formal written warnings.
Of the seventeen formally reprimanded, four were issued with fines payable to the Hardship Fund amounting to €350. The remaining thirteen were required to issue a total of twenty-one letters of apology.
It was not disclosed as to why students had to write more than one letter of apology, or to whom these letters were issued. Furthermore, the document seen by SIN revealed that one student was fined a sum of €50, without having been required to write a letter of apology. The reason behind this was also not disclosed.
The University refused to reveal the exact nature of the sanctions imposed upon two staff members throughout the semester. This owed to the fact that only two individuals were involved and publication of details on the matter may result in the sanctions imposed on each individual being easily identifiable. They did, however, say that disciplinary hearings were held, and the appropriate sanctions were imposed.
In November, Dean of Students ,Michelle Millar, issued an email to all registered students reminding them of their responsibilities and revealed that several students had already faced sanctions.
Student accommodation complexes have also come down hard on residences in breach of Covid-19 measures. Cúirt na Coiribe came under fire late last year for threatening to report students to University authorities if they were judged to be in breach of regulations.
Students’ Union President, Pádraic Tooomey, expressed his opposition to the policy of issuing fines to students describing the move as “discriminatory”:
“We don’t support the idea of financial fines; we just don’t think it’s fair” said Toomey.
“We’re just against the idea of fines, they affect students in different ways, not every student can afford a fine in the same way. They are generally discriminatory, so we have been looking at the process of the disciplinary process and the different fines and sanctions that they do have. Earlier in the year, it was added that COVID can be part of the rules, but the actual process wasn’t changed so we are not looking at that.”
The SU President also encouraged those that have been sanctioned to contact the Union for assistance with the disciplinary process.
“We would always recommend that a student brought forward for disciplinary actions should always contact the Students’ Union and a Students’ Union representative can come and represent you during the process, which we always recommend. If students are fined, they can always look at appealing as well, and we can advise a little bit on that.” he said.
SIN reached out to Dean of Students Michelle Millar for comment on the matters but did not receive a response at the time of publication.