USI votes to Support BDS Campaign

It mandates USI to support local BDS branches in third-level institutions

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has today voted to adopt a pro-Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) policy for dealing with companies and institutions. 

The policy, which required a 66%+1 majority to pass, denounces the apartheid being committed by Israel in Palestine. It also mandates USI to support local BDS branches in third-level institutions and to establish a toolkit to aid in the establishment of local BDS branches, based on the toolkit of Trinity BDS.

The union is now required to boycott Israeli institutions, companies, corporations and products that the union currently uses or has relations with.

It further mandates USI Coiste Gnó, the union’s leadership,to call on the European Students Union (ESU) to re-consider Israel’s membership of the union, and to encourage Palestinian efforts to engage with the ESU.

The motion text acknowledged that “the student movement has often been at the forefront of important societal change, both locally, and internationally, including standing together against apartheid in South Africa, fighting for civil rights in the USA in the 1960’s and now organising collectively to tackle the growing climate crisis”.

Current International Student Officer for Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union, (TCDSU), Chair of the TCD BDS branch and incoming USI Vice President for Campaigns Zaid Al-Barghouthi, expressed support for the motion alongside TCDSU President-elect and current secretary for the Trinity BDS branch László Molnárfi.

Speaking in a tweet today, the Vice President for the Dublin Region of the USI, Sierra Müller-Owens, said that she was happy to have collaborated with the TCDSU to pass the motion, adding that “anti-apartheid policy was one of my goals coming into the year and I’m so delighted to have it passed with my home union”.

Müller-Owens collaborated with TCDSU President Gabi Fullam on the original motion. 

In 2020, Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) voted to support the BDS movement with some 64.5 per cent voting in favour.

Last month the Trinity BDS group condemned the college’s invitation of former Israeli Defense Force service member, Evegeny Afineevsky, to speak at an event. 

The BDS movement is a non-profit organisation founded in 2005 that works to promote boycotts and economic sanctions against Israel. 

Kate Byrne

Kate Byrne is the Deputy Comment Editor at Trinity News and is currently in her Junior Sophister Year studying History and Political Science.