Students of Dublin City University have taken the internet by storm this week with their #ShanowenShakedown campaign.
#ShanowenShakedown is a response to the outrageous proposal of increasing student accommodation prices. These prices are proposed in Shanowen Halls and Shanowen Square for the coming 2018/19 academic year. The Shanowen Developers are planning to increase the current price by 27%, costing students around €9,000 for 9 months accommodation, far exceeding national average student living costs.
In addition to Shanowen, Gateway have also proposed to increase their prices. They intend to increase by 12.5%, an increase of approximately €1,000. However, Gateway have agreed to enter talks with DCU SU. Taking to Twitter, Hazelwood Student Accommodation tried to advertise a drop by 7.73% in their prices. Not taking any bait, DCU students exposed the complex by showing that they were actually only offering a free car-parking space. Which would have originally cost students €500 per annum.
Grants and Tax Breaks
Accommodation such as Shanowen, Gateway and Hazelwood are all purpose built for students. This means that developers would have received grants and tax breaks from the government to ensure affordable accommodation for students. Unfortunately, greed has taken its toll on such developers after having increased their prices six times since it’s establishment. A 9-month-lease in Shanowen will now cost a student double the amount it would have cost when it first opened as student accommodation.
Weighing up all these figures, leads me to question rent regulation. Under the Rent Predictability Measure, rent in Rent Pressure Zones are capped at no more than a 4% increase per year. However, even though Glasnevin falls into the Dublin City Council Rent Pressure Zone, these students are not protected by the Rent Predictability Measure. At the moment, owners of student accommodation complexes are free to increase rent year on year by however much they want.
Fortunately for students at DCU and nationwide, students currently living in Shanowen have declared war. Committing to not take these price hikes lying down. With the support of DCU SU, students have carried out Town Hall meetings on DCU’s Glasnevin Campus and have also protested outside Shanowen Square.
DCU SU have tried to reach out to Shanowen but have been unsuccessful. They have since released a statement conveying their ‘anger and frustration at the recent increase in accommodation prices’. The statement goes on to say that these increases are unacceptable and will provide even more challenges to the already challenging student life. Signing off the statement with ‘these students are part of our community and should not be burdened for simply accessing education’ DCU SU are committed to helping their students as much as they possibly can.
#ShanowenShakedown has taken Twitter by storm over the past few days, with many students sharing their commute home for Easter.
Student Sorcha Murphy was one such student who used Twitter to show how a daily commute to and from Ennis, Co. Clare would just not be viable.
Like many DCU students I am making my way home. A journey that is estimated to take 3.5hrs but more often than not takes 5 or more. The inconsistency of timing, the uncertainty of getting a seat and the €30 total cost is not something I can do twice daily. #ShanowenShakedown
— Sorcha Murphy (@sorcham12) March 30, 2018
Sarah O’Dwyer, another DCU student expressed her concerns for the future
I hope that Shanowen never need a doctor / lawyer / nurse / teacher / engineer in the future, as they're preventing students from being educated and becoming these things by charging an extortionate amount for a bed and a toilet. #ShanowenShakedown
— Sarah O'Dwyer (@sarahodwyer97) March 31, 2018
Making matters worse, €9,000 per 9 months apparently doesn’t even entitle you to a clean, fully furnished home. Over the past few days students living in Shanowen have shared horrific images of their student homes.
Thankfully, Fine Gael TD Noel Rock has shown his support for DCU students.
— Noel Rock (@NoelRock) March 28, 2018
He has also issued a Private Members Bill to the Dáil to stop such price hikes and protect our students.
Mattie McGrath IND has also shown solidarity to DCU students. In the last Dáil sitting before Easter, the TD brought up #ShanowenShakedown.
Yesterday in the Dail I raised the issue of #ShanowenShakedown, the extortionate 24% rise in student accom costs for @DCUSU students. I urge the gov to regulate this sector & cap rent increases. €9k for 9months accom is totally unachievable for anyone, particularly students. pic.twitter.com/KacPbuzhTP
— Mattie McGrath TD (@mattiemcgrathtd) March 30, 2018
With no immediate response from the Government and absolutely no response from Shanowen developers, it’s not clear how this story will unfold.
However, it is clear that the student voice is stronger than ever in Ireland.
To get involved in #ShanowenShakedown or to support our future doctors, nurses, teachers and leaders simply use the #ShanowenShakedown on Twitter and Facebook.