By Olivia Kelleher
Residents near University College Cork (UCC) who hit the headlines earlier this year amid concerns about “Covid parties” amongst students have said they are shocked at plans by the Students’ Union to “surge ahead with Freshers’ Week”.
In a statement the residents of Magazine Road and Surrounding Areas say that despite UCC and gardaí engaging with the Students’ Union in an effort to get them to cancel in the interests of public health, the event is still going ahead.
“We believe this shows a real disconnect between the union on how Freshers’ Week is impacting residents but also how the event is facilitating the risk the spreading Covid among students in UCC and the wider community, which, if not curtailed, will have further devastating economic effects on the city and people of Cork.
“When people in Cork have been asked to minimise social contacts, and UCC has moved lectures online, the Union shows shocking irresponsibility and a blatant disregard for the health and economic well-being of the citizens of Cork city.”
However, UCC Students’ Union President Naoise Crowley said he couldn’t understand the position being held by the residents.
“We have cancelled our usual Freshers’ Week. As an alternative, UCC Students’ Union is running a virtual Freshers’ Week – where students, including the thousands who have not traveled to Cork as a result of last Friday’s announcement can enjoy virtual entertainment such as bands, DJs and comedians from their own home as well as learning about the supports available within UCC through our virtual, interactive campus map.
“This approach has been taken in line with public health strategy towards the entertainments industry since the beginning of the pandemic, and is fully compliant with guidelines.
“We are using Virtual Freshers’ Week as a means of promoting public health measures by providing alternative entertainment to face-to-face contact. For reference, Dublin colleges, including Trinity are all hosting an online Freshers’ Week too.”
No such thing as virtual Freshers’ week
Former Lord Mayor of Cork, Councillor Catherine Clancy who lives locally, says that there is no such thing as a virtual Freshers’ week.
“A message has to go out against house parties and social gatherings. The word Freshers’ Week goes hand in hand with house parties. It started last night. It needs to be cancelled.”
The householders took a successful case against a former landlord in the area earlier this year after repeated house parties in the area led to significant noise.
They were horrified when students gathered in large numbers in the area during the national Covid 19 lockdown period. They are worried that house parties in the area could lead to a major rise in Covid cases in Cork in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, students at NUI Galway have been warned that they will be facing possible expulsion for breaching public health guidelines.
A letter emailed to all students, from the Dean, warned that anyone found breaching Covid-19 guidelines will be subject to the NUI Galway code of conduct.
The code lists “any behaviour that endangers the welfare of the individual or others,” which includes breaches of public health guidelines.
Students at the University of Limerick have also been warned that they could face expulsion for throwing parties in breach of Covid-19 guidelines.
The warning comes after reports some UL students are still planning large scale parties when the new semester starts in the coming days.