Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union President-elect László Molnárfi has accused College of being “opposed to open-ended discussion and debate” in an email to Provost Linda Doyle.
In an email seen by Trinity News, Molnárfi addressed the “trend of inviting high-profile public figures and only having pre-filtered and pre-submitted Q/A sessions”, describing it as “very concerning and is completely antithetical to the values our university claims to uphold”.
Molnárfi said that the pre-filtered submissions at Minister for Transport and the Environment Eamon Ryan’s address last Thursday led to “softball questions being asked of our public representative”.
Ryan’s address last week was disrupted by student activists, including Mólnárfi, who told Ryan that “blood is on your hands and the Green Party’s hands due to your complicity in the neoliberal government that has just voted to end the eviction ban”.
Doyle made an unexpected appearance at the address after protestors were removed, criticising the protest and calling for students to “cope with different views, different opinions, and listen to those respectfully”. Molnárfi criticised Doyle’s comments in his email.
Molnárfi also pointed out that Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe’s panel with the Irish Universities Association (IUA) only allowed for pre-submitted questions, according to the event sign-up form which asks for questions in advance.
“This way of hosting events makes it so that marginalised and sidelined voices cannot make their issues known apart from protest,” Molnárfi argued, “and [it] furthermore cements our university’s role as a positive PR generator for the government and its ministers.”
“The reason that these events have restricted academic debate and freedom of speech is because the purpose of the events is not to further the aims of our university and the values of academia, but to prop up our government, engage in networking and show our compliance, in the hopes of securing favours. Our College has sold out to the government, rather than standing up for its own values and autonomy.”
Molnárfi called for a policy that mandates “a truly open-ended Q/A session at the end” of any event featuring a high-profile public representative.
“The voices of students, staff and attendees are being censored in order to soften and prop up the image of government politicians and this is unacceptable.”
Trinity People Before Profit have also criticised the trend of pre-submitted questions only at events, describing Donohoe’s “continual failures on housing policy. They have called on protestors to gather outside Trinity Business School at 12.15pm on their Instagram story, which has been reshared by Students4Change.