Update: TU Dublin’s Deafening Silence on the Genocide in Palestine

 

Update: TU Dublin’s Deafening Silence on the Genocide in Palestine

 

In the last few days, several things have happened.

Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) lead an inspirational campaign that pressured their University into finally recognising the ICJ ruling on Israel committing genocide, beginning the process of divestment from Israeli institutions, and committing to ending their partnerships with Israeli Universities.

University College Cork Students’ Union (UCCSU) successfully pressured their University into committing to divest, establishing a Palestine Emergency Response Working Group, and releasing a statement condemning the destruction of homes, hospitals, Universities, and schools

Queens Students’ Union (QSU) successfully pressured their University into divestment, into releasing a statement calling for an immediate ceasefire, and into becoming a formal University of Sanctuary.

 

TU Dublin, despite SU pressure, has to date, failed to carry out these actions. Their silence is now deafening amongst these other Universities. But what has the Students’ Union (SU) done to date to pressure them? Here’s a timeline:

 

In October 2023, Student Council adopted a policy to unapologetically support Palestine, advocate for the liberation of the Palestinian people, and demand that the University acknowledge the ongoing genocide in Gaza. Following this, the SU released a statement reflecting this stance across all its available channels & the SU President began to denounce Israel’s actions in media.

In November 2023, Student Council also adopted a BDS Policy; this meant that as well as boycotting certain brands and goods themselves, the SU would also pressure the University to adopt a similar policy. This included demanding that TU Dublin divest from Israel in all forms, if any such links existed.

Following the adoption of this policy, the SU firstly ended its own partnerships and links with brands/companies on the International BDS list. This currently includes brands such as Dominos, Coca Cola, McDonalds, and several others.

 

 

In December 2023, the SU President submitted several Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to TU Dublin. FOI’s provide public access to information held by public institutions (this includes Universities like TU Dublin) and are enshrined in the FOI Act 2014. We had four main areas of interest:

1. Does TU Dublin invest in any companies involved in the weapons industry, whether through endowment funds, investments held in pensions, unit trusts, or any other financial product? According to the FOI = No

2. Does TU Dublin receive funding for research from any Israeli companies? According to the FOI = No

3. Does TU Dublin have any partnerships with Israeli institutions, academic or otherwise? According to the FOI = No

4. Do any Israeli companies provide services to TU Dublin, or trade with TU Dublin, or have investments in any form with TU Dublin? According to the FOI = No

 

In January 2024, following the results of the FOI requests (they typically take 28 days), we established that unlike many other Universities (such as Trinity, UCC and Queens), TU Dublin did not have any significant investments that would require divesting from, nor they did have any significant institution-level partnerships with Israeli institutions. The Union therefore (at the time) had two primary goals:

1. TU Dublin to release a statement that, amongst other things, clearly indicates their support of the Palestinian People & their denouncement of the ongoing genocide taking place in Gaza.

2. TU Dublin to formally commit to BDS (i.e. instead of it being coincidence that they don't have any links, it should be a clear policy of the University. As well, while no institutional level links exist, issues remained such as boycotted brands like ‘Dominos’ still appearing on the University approved supplier list).

 

In February 2024, after several minor demonstrations and small-scale lobbying attempts, the SU escalated and began targeting the University and its reputation more publicly. The Students’ Union and TUI (Teachers Union of Ireland), wrote a joint public statement demanding that the President of TU Dublin take action. It was extensive, and demands included:  

1. Release a Statement, on behalf of TU Dublin, that amongst other things , acknowledged Israel's genocidal war against the People of Palestine.

2. Suspend all academic links between TU Dublin and complicit Israeli Academic Institutions, if any.

3. Adopt a University-wide BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) Policy.

This statement received significant media attention, and was reported on by RTE News. The response of the President, who has since resigned, acknowledged the atrocities taking place in Gaza in a personal capacity, but ultimately his stance was the following:

‘My guiding principle is my belief that universities should take the lead in providing a neutral setting to bring all members of society into a conversation.’

Our joint response to his insistence on neutrality was lengthy; we questioned some specific tangential links between TU Dublin and Israel (that had not appeared in the original FOI results and were exposed), and highlighted the double standards given TU Dublin had previously made a statement in support of Ukraine following Russia’s invasion. We asked that the President reconsider his decision, and requested a meeting.

 

He responded a final time, on the day of his resignation, and once again, refused. In the view of TU Dublin Students’ Union, he remained complicit with genocide.  

In March 2024, following this refusal by the President to make a statement on behalf of TU Dublin in support of Palestine, nor formally commit to a BDS policy, the Students' Union President, Brian Jordan, drafted a proposal to TU Dublin’s highest decision making body.

In TU Dublin, the highest decision making body has responsibility for the strategic direction of the University, the management and administration of its revenue and property, and the general conduct of its affairs. The President reports into the highest decision making body..

Therefore, if this proposal was accepted, it would mandate the President and University to make a statement denouncing the Palestinian Genocide and committing to a BDS Policy. However, it was denied a place on the agenda of the March meeting, as well as the May meeting, under the guise of the ‘priority status of TU Dublin’s Financial Crisis’. It was agreed that the proposal would be discussed in the June 2024 meeting, which is the final meeting of the highest decision making body before our current SU President finishes his term-of-office.

This meeting has been the goal of the SU in terms of mandating the University to take a definitive stance, and adopt a BDS Policy; members of highest decision making body, (which includes the SU President) are sworn to strict confidentiality however, which is why this proposal has, to date, not been publicised.

However, in recent weeks, we have seen exceptional successes in Trinity, UCC, and Queens University. Furthermore, we have seen Israel begin its invasion on Rafah, despite the UN warning that this will likely lead to mass civilian casualties and a humanitarian catastrophe. We cannot wait any longer.

In the highest decision making body meeting earlier this week (the ‘May 2024’ meeting), the SU President therefore highlighted TCDSU’s success, Trinity’s formal endorsement of the ICJ ruling on Genocide, and asked if TU Dublin had plans, if any, to follow suit.

 

The new interim TU Dublin President noted in this meeting that next week (13-17th May), the University Executive Team will be establishing whether or not TU Dublin takes stances generally on what it considers ‘geopolitical issues’, which will therefore include Palestine. Furthermore, Ireland and other EU member states are expected to formally recognise the state of Palestine on the 21st of May.

However, the SU is not confident that an active stance will be taken following this. We are disgusted that TU Dublin has remained complicit in genocide, and in the murder of innocent civilians, including children. All the while, other Universities have shown that taking a stance is in fact, possible. We have done everything we can to follow their formal channels, to work in partnership, and to be patient. But we’re out of time.

 

In less than 7 days, TU Dublin will decide on their stance.

In less than 12 days, Ireland will recognise the state of Palestine.

 

We need them to hear us; visit our instagram to see how you as students in TU Dublin, can help!

 

*UPDATE* May 2024, A new letter has been sent from TU Dublin SU to the interim President of TU Dublin. Please read it here.

 

Email Action:
 

The University Executive Team are meeting next Wednesday to finalise their stance (if any) on Palestine. This decision will be made by 11 people. And guess what? You can email each and every one of them. Their TU Dublin email addresses:

president@tudublin.ie

registrar@tudublin.ie

chiefoperationsofficer@tudublin.ie

dean.business@tudublin.ie

dean.ah@tudublin.ie

dean.ebe@tudublin.ie

dean.dd@tudublin.ie

vp.ri@tudublin.ie

vp.partnerships@tudublin.ie

vp.organisation@tudublin.ie

vp.sustainability@tudublin.ie

We need you to send an email to these 11 people, who control TU Dublin, and tell them that they need to listen to the demands of the Union & TUI. To ensure it takes you less than 2 minutes, we have created a document below which has a email template prepared for you. Simply click on the link, copy & paste, and send it. You could change the trajectory of the University with one simple action.

Email Template