TCDSU to run Anti-Apartheid Week as part of BDS mandate

The motion passed by a wide majority after extensive discussion

A motion passed at Council this evening to mandate Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) to run an Anti-Apartheid Week in order to “increase awareness of Israel apartheid and the Palestinian struggle”.

The motion was proposed by Junior Sophister Genetics class rep, Adam McQuillan, and seconded by TCDSU President, Shane De Rís, as a move towards implementing TCDSU’s mandate to support the BDS movement.

The Anti-Apartheid Week is to feature “information stalls, posters, speakers and other social and cultural events to engage with students on the issue” of apartheid.

TCDSU Communications and Marketing Officer, Paraic McLean, suggested that the Anti-Apartheid Week be held alongside Refugee Week, in order to avoiding diluting the strength of either campaign, which was accepted by Council.

The BDS movement, which began in 2005, campaigns for various forms of boycott against Israel, including the boycott of Israeli fruit and vegetables, bulldozer brand Caterpillar, and IT company Hewlett Packard.

In a discussion on the motion, TCDSU International Students’ Officer, Molly McCrory, raised the subject of Israeli students in Trinity, stating: “I want to make sure we’re not punishing Israeli students, or students with Israeli parents, for something they can’t control.”

Junior Sophister Chemistry class rep, Aodhan Donnelly, who spoke in favour of the motion, stated: “We need to make sure everyone on this campus is aware of the BDS movement. We need to make sure that we are not associated with apartheid on this campus.”

TCDSU Engineering, Mathematics and Sciences (EMS) Convenor, Sally Anne McCarthy, raised a procedural motion to postpone the motion to next Council, which was defeated 27-19 in favour of holding the vote tonight.

Responding to a question on whether the motion could facilitate antisemitism, TCDSU President, Shane De Rís, stated that there “will be no antisemitism tolerated” and encouraged Council to “vote to help those under attack in Palestine right now”.

Trinity students voted for TCDSU to support the BDS movement in 2018, with 64.5% of the vote. 2,050 students voted in the referendum. TCDSU President, Shane De Rís, and Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) President, Oisín Vince Coulter, expressed their support for BDS at the time of the vote.

Due to the long-term nature of the policy to boycott Israel, the referendum required at least 60% of students balloted to vote in its favour, according to the TCDSU constitution.

Trinity students participated in a protest last weekend calling for Ireland to boycott Eurovision 2019, which is set to take place in Tel Aviv in May. Students gathered at House Six on Saturday morning, before protesting outside the RTE studios in Donnybrook.

TCDSU Council took place this evening in the Edmund Burke lecture theatre in the Arts Building.

Lauren Boland

Lauren Boland was the Editor of the 67th volume of Trinity News. She is an English Literature and Sociology graduate and previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.