Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) has received numerous complaints on the motion to be debated by the University Philosophical Society (the Phil) on Thursday evening, “This House Believes That Middle Eastern Women Need Western Feminism”.
TCDSU Ethnic Minorities Officer, Navika Mehta, confirmed that she had received 20 complaints about the motion as of Monday night, however refused to give comment on the situation.
One of those who complained, Senior Sophister PPES student Ghalya Farhat, said: “The racial undertones of the motion should state Western feminism as white feminism, because by Middle Eastern they clearly mean Muslim Arabs and not the just the geographical region they inhabit. Sweeping years of colonialism under the carpet and disregarding the fact that it has majorly morphed and shaped the social structures of most Middle Eastern countries is disgraceful.”
“This neo-imperialist notion of Western salvation is highly problematic as once again not only does it disregard the anti-progress that was a result of colonialism, but it also disregards the faulty Orientalist image of women as victims that has been painted by Western, white males,” Farhat outlined. “Additionally, I think we all know by this point that if any social change is to happen it has to be a grass-root, Arab women lead movement.”
Farhat continued: “This constant need to look at the West and regard it as the best exemplar needs to stop as it is eternally more damaging than helpful. Change towards a more women inclusive, equal rights oriented Middle East is absolutely necessary but it needs to happen at its own pace and by its own people who understand its complex social structures and culture for it to actually succeed.”
However, TCDSU have no jurisdiction over the Phil. The Central Societies Committee (CSC) is the oversight body for Trinity’s 126 societies.
TCDSU President Shane de Rís commented: “It’s not the SU’s place to interfere in how societies operate, that’s up to the job of the CSC, we don’t moderate what societies do. Societies are free to govern themselves through the CSC. What we do do, however, is offer support to students who are affected by such debates, be they controversial or upsetting for whatever reason, through our Welfare Officer, our International Officer, and Ethnic Minorities Officer. We are here to support students who are affected by the debate.”
The eight speakers at the debate have not yet been announced. Neither the Secretary of the Phil, nor the CSC, provided comment at the time of publication.