TCDSU to hold referendums on BDS and opting out of union lobbying

Voting in the referendums will be held on March 21 and 22

Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) will hold two referendums later this month. The first referendum will be on whether TCDSU should support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The second referendum will be on whether Trinity students should be allowed opt out of “being counted in Union lobbying efforts”. Both referendums were triggered by petitions which gathered the 500 necessary valid signatures.

Voting in the referendums will take place on March 21 and 22. Campaigning will be held from March 19 until the close of voting.

Students will be asked whether TCDSU should adopt a long-term policy in support of the BDS movement. The BDS movement calls for a political, economic, and academic boycott of the state of Israel. The international campaign began in 2005.

The Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) group had been gathering signatures for a petition to trigger a referendum on the issue. The petition received 722 valid signatures. Speaking to Trinity News, Students for Justice in Palestine spokesperson Ciaran O’Rourke said: “Palestinian civil society groups have been calling for the peaceful boycott of Israel on human rights grounds since 2005. Given the scale of oppression that Palestinian communities continue to face as a result of Israeli apartheid, the upcoming student referendum is a welcome and necessary step towards deciding how we as a community will respond to that call – particularly in light of Trinity’s record of academic boycott and anti-apartheid solidarity in the case of South Africa in the 1970s and 1980s, not to mention the extensive financial ties that Trinity has cultivated with institutions that profit from Israeli apartheid in recent years.”

“It’s a tribute to the student activists involved in SJP and their evidently numerous supporters from among the wider student body that this referendum is taking place,” he said. 

Meanwhile, the second referendum is to allow “students to opt out of being counted in Union lobbying efforts”. The petition received 531 valid signatures.

Additional reporting by Niamh Lynch.

Rory O'Neill

Rory O'Neill is a former Managing Editor of Trinity News, and a History graduate.