TCDSU President Gabi Fullam has said the announced denaming of the Berkeley Library shows “there is no tradition too sacred to question”.
Fullam welcomed the decision by the College Board to rename the library following a report by the Trinity Legacies Review Working Group and a public consultation.
“Our buildings deserve to be celebrated by the community who uses them,” Fullam said.
“This is not the beginning, nor the end of anti-racism work done by our union – but today, we celebrate the power we have together.”
TCDSU voted to support a grassroots petition to rename the library proposed by then-first year student Louie Lyons in February 2022.
Fullam said students were “troubled” by the commemorations in College to philosopher and former provost George Berkeley, who bought at least four slaves and sought to advance ideological support for slavery.
She referred to “the Berkeley Memorial Window in the College Chapel, medals which are named after him, and most notably, the Berkeley Library”.
In August 2022, TCDSU denamed the Berkeley Library in all its communications, henceforth referring to it as the “X Library”.
Fullam said TCDSU will continue to refer to the library as the X Library in all future communications until a new name is decided.
According to an email from Senior Dean Professor Eoin O’Sullivan, the new name will be determined by a separate process, and the Trinity Legacies Review Working Group “will continue to engage with Trinity’s legacy issues on a case-by-case basis”.
College will also adopt a “retain-and-explain approach” to the stained-glass window commemorating Berkeley in the chapel, and portraits of Berkeley will be assessed according to a new overall College policy on artwork.
Academic awards bearing Berkeley’s name, such as the Gold Medals referred to by Fullam, will be reviewed by their relevant academic departments.
The library, first opened in 1967, was named after George Berkeley in 1978, who published much of his philosophical work while a librarian at Trinity in the eighteenth century.
Provost Patrick Prendergast first said that College would be open to renaming the library in 2021, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement which gave rise to global debate surrounding the legacies of colonialism and racism.