Wasps War: An open letter calls on College not to “persecute” campus wasps

Estates and Facilities circulated an email this morning, explaining that there is “a wasp’s nest on the roof of the hoarding protecting the side entrance to the Museum building”

This evening, an open letter has been published by Jamie Rohu, PhD student, calling on Trinity to put a “stay” on the removal of a wasps’ nest beside the Museum Building. 

Estates and Facilities circulated an email this morning, explaining that there is “a wasp’s nest on the roof of the hoarding protecting the side entrance to the Museum building”. 

Estates and Facilities continued to explain that over the last week, a “number of people have been stung accessing or egressing the building”.

The statement explained that on health and safety grounds, and to “protect the contractors when they are removing the scaffolding and hoarding”, the nest is due to be removed and treated tomorrow by a specialist firm. 

“This will necessitate the temporary reopening of the main door for access and egress on Friday August 20 and Saturday August 21, the entrance had been closed for safety reasons during the building’s renovation works,” the statement concluded. 

In his open letter, however, Rohu explained that in May 2019, Ireland declared a “climate and biodiversity emergency”, and College has responded by planting wildflower meadows. Rohu claimed “pollinators such as wasps, bees and moths have flocked” to campus to use this food source. 

Rohu’s open letter also explained that the “degradation” of Ireland’s countryside as a result of “intensive farming” has resulted in many pollinators flocking to cities, while their population has decreased dramatically. 

“Efforts by institutions like Trinity to create and nurture wild species are to be welcomed and encouraged during times of ecological crisis,” the letter continued. 

The wasps’ nest is only one of the events involving Trinity’s wildlife in the last year. Bats took up residence in the Pavillion Bar (the Pav) back in June 2020, following the first lockdown. More recently, Trinity’s residence fox Sam gave birth to six cubs after a lengthy romance that was shared by Trinity on social media.

Rohu’s letter continued to state that Ireland has a “chequered past” when it comes to “protecting nature”, and Trinity’s recent environmental record has “raised concerns”. 

“The university organised works to the Museum Building eight years ago that impeded the nesting of swifts in its air events,” Rohu continued. “In May 2019, The Green News reported on the ‘alleged illegal cutting’ of trees on Trinity’s main campus during the bird nesting season.”

“The eradication of the wasps is another environmental misstep on the part of the university’s decision makers.”

The letter then called on Trinity to “reconsider its decision to persecute the Museum Building wasps”, and instead work with stakeholders to reach an “amicable resolution“.

Trinity News has reached out to College for a comment.

Trinity College Dublin’s Graduate Students’ Union (TCDGSU) President Gisèle Scanlon reached out to Trinity News this evening to make a statement on the situation.

“Jamie Rohu has the full backing of Gisèle Scanlon, the president of the GSU,” Scanlon stated.

“Maintaining insect abundance and diversity must be a priority at Trinity,” she continued. “We need less greenwashing. Global concern about the decline of pollinators has resulted in public support for bees, but we need a culture shift in attitudes towards wasps.”

This is the first time the president of the GSU has offered a comment to Trinity News since the beginning of her re-election campaign.

“I have offered my garden shed if they move the hoarding,” the president explained. “We’ve been reaching out to beekeepers all day to try to save the nest.”

This article was updated at 7:39 pm to include a statement from GSU President Gisèle Scanlon.

Shannon Connolly

Shannon Connolly is the current Deputy Editor of Trinity News, and a Junior Sophister student of English Literature and Philosophy. She previously served as News Editor and Assistant News Editor.