Today, Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) released a petition directed toward the candidates of the upcoming Provost elections to “place the climate crisis at the forefront of their work over the next 10 years”.
The petition, addressed by TCDSU Communications and Marketing Officer Philly Holmes in representation of the union, urged the provostial candidates to understand that the environmental crisis is “an existential threat to humanity and intertwined with all the challenges we face, including global pandemics, economic shocks, wealth inequality and racism”.
“We, as students and members of the College community, want to look back in 10 years’ time and say we did everything we could to collectively tackle the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss,” begins the text of the petition.
TCDSU continued in the petition to highlight the benefits that Trinity would reap from becoming active proponents of the environment: “We believe this shift would in fact attract many prospective students to study here, since younger generations are highly conscious of the impact of organisations on the environment.”
Contents of the petition include suggesting that the future provost create an office of Sustainability and Civic Engagement with at least ten full-time staff members, who will “merge their mutual goals and produce cost savings through the full implementation of the College’s Sustainability Strategy”.
The union also presented suggestions that the provost make Uni-Eco climate change and sustainability training modules mandatory for all campus staff, and expand all existing sustainability training resources.
In response to recent events such as the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, TCDSU recognises that the pandemic has “exposed the over-dependence of third-level institutions on international mobility, flawed ranking systems and narrow promotion incentives which treat education and research as individualistic endeavours”.
However, they note that an incoming provost would provide Trinity with “a unique opportunity to reimagine an educational model which serves our planet”.
TCDSU provided the provost with two options in the face of the ongoing climate crisis: either to “continue with the status quo and further incorporate environmental sustainability…in an incremental manner”, or to “become an institutional leader by taking ambitious and positive actions in a manner commensurate with climate and biodiversity science”.
“The shift needed to act commensurable is breath-taking but is well within the capacity of a world-leading university under the leadership of a strong visionary,” continues the document.
The petition concludes with TCDSU stating that they would “welcome a Provost debate that is devoted to this statement”.
The provost is responsible for all academic, administrative, financial and personnel affairs in College, and they chair several governing bodies within Trinity, including Board, University Council, and the Finance Committee.
Candidates for the position have thus far been all female, lending to the likelihood of the first female provost of Trinity for the incoming term.
The election will take place on 10 April 2021.