Reception for Residents
13th February 2019
Thank you, Philip
And good afternoon, everyone, and greetings, indeed, to my fellow Trinity residents.
It has been my great good fortune to have been a resident of this College as a senior sophister I had rooms in House 20 Botany Bay, when I returned to Ireland as a member of staff I had rooms in House 33 New Square for a year, and, as Provost I have lived on campus for the past seven years – and that has been not the least privilege of this job. I hope you would all agree that there is something very special about living in this beautiful city-centre campus.
As residents, we’re a microcosm of the larger Trinity community. We are students, staff, visiting lecturers and college officers who enjoy a particularly intimate sense of the campus. As residents, we embody a tradition going back to the foundation of the college, 428 years ago.
Originally, all Fellows lived in rooms. That changed over the course of the centuries; today more students than staff live on campus. As in the past, rooms didn’t cater much for families. But when Lynne Ruane, who is now a Trinity senator, was President of the Students Union, she lived in college with her two daughters. That caught the attention of RTE when they were making a four-part series on Trinity. The idea of a school child having the freedom of the campus is compelling.
Over the years, amenities have been added to the campus which help improve life for residents. The Sports Hall, for instance, is wonderful and residents are able to avail of its facilities at off-peak times when it’s less crowded. Science Gallery has a very impressive café. And when it comes to entering and exiting the campus, there is considerably more freedom than previously. Up until, I think, the 1960s there were draconian rules about women not being on campus after dark.
In many ways, therefore, residential life on campus has got better. We are committed to continuing improvement, and sustainability is very important in this regard since it notably improves quality of life for those who live here.
I know that Michelle Hallahan will be speaking shortly about sustainable initiatives on campus. I’d just like to mention two initiatives which I – as a resident - particularly appreciate. The first is the Campus Pollinator Plan which has seen us reduce the frequency of mowing, plant wildflowers and pollinator-friendly bulbs and place honeybee hives and bee hotels on campus. We’re beginning to see the effects of this and we’re hopeful that effects will multiply in the coming years with many more bees and flowers.
And the second thing I’m looking forward to is a tobacco-free campus, which will be inaugurated in just a month. This will improve the quality of air, reduce litter from cigarette butts and help people to cut down on smoking.
Such improvements spell progress.
At the same time, we’re aware that proportionately far fewer students can live in College than previously. This is because of the growth in student numbers, which is only set to continue. While we won’t be able to return to the situation of old, we are doing what we can to ensure that as many students as possible enjoy the benefit of living on campus. We are currently in the middle of the construction of Printing House Square, and we’re soon to complete the conversion of 183-188 Pearse Street into student accommodation. Both projects will bring many more students to live in College.
As I’ve mentioned, I was first a resident here just over thirty years ago. But this is the first time there has been a reception for Residents. I congratulate the Registrar of Chambers, Dr Philip Coleman, Hazel Kinmonth from the Accommodation Office, and their teams for this initiative. It’s a wonderful idea and I hope it becomes an annual event. It is, I guess, the campus version of what they call in the US, a block party. Let’s take this time together this evening to get to know each other.