DCU students appeal rerun of BDS referendum

The initial referendum results were withheld following a technical fault

The Dublin City University branch of Students for Justice (DCU SJP) have appealed the decision to rerun a referendum regarding the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The result of the referendum was disregarded following a technical fault which forced voting to close an hour early on the final day of voting, which took place between March 5 and 7. These results are being withheld.

The referendum asked students to vote on whether Dublin City University Students’ Union (DCUSU) should affiliate with the BDS movement.

On March 20, the union’s Class Representative Council (CRC) voted against accepting the initial results, leading to a decision to rerun the referendum at a later stage in the semester.

An emergency meeting of the CRC was held on March 26 where SJP argued that the CRC’s vote was unconstitutional, saying that the BDS referendum had achieved all constitutional requirements. However, there were not enough class representatives in attendance for the vote to be considered valid.

DCU Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) called for students to vote yes in the referendum in support of BDS. Speaking to Trinity News before the vote, DCU SJP Chairperson Stephanie O’Toole said: “We want our Students’ Union to take steps to implement the demands of the Palestinian call for BDS. But we also want to build a culture of solidarity with Palestine on campus and reach as many students as we can through means of education.”

SJP is a pro-Palestinian student activism organisation. SJP is aligned with the BDS movement, which campaigns for various forms of boycott against Israel, including the boycott of Israeli fruit and vegetables, bulldozer brand Caterpillar, and IT company Hewlett Packard. The BDS movement began in 2005.

If the students’ appeal is not accepted, the referendum is expected to be rerun before the end of the semester alongside a referendum on the union’s drug policy.

In 2018, Trinity students voted for Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) to support the BDS movement with a 64.5% majority, with 2,050 students voting 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.

TCDSU held its first Anti-Apartheid Week this semester as part of its BDS mandate. Students staged an anti-apartheid action in in supermarkets in the city centre, where they presented trolleys filled with Israeli and settlement goods to store management and delivered a statement calling for the stores to “end the sale of goods from Apartheid Israel”.

Sarah Moran

Sarah Moran is the current Head Copyeditor of Trinity News. She is also a Senior Sophister English Literature student.