Council passes motion to campaign for the withdrawal of Biden’s honorary doctorate

The motion was proposed by Union Forum and seconded by TCDSU President László Molnárfi.

Trinity College Dublin Students Union (TCDSU) has passed a motion to campaign for the withdrawal of President Biden’s honorary doctorate. 

Biden’s honorary doctorate degree was awarded to him in 2016 when he was vice-president.

The motion was proposed by Union Forum (UF) and seconded by TCDSU President László Molnárfi.

The motion states that UF is “disgusted” that the US, “on the initiative of Biden”, has requested Congress approve war-time aid to countries including Israel.

“This is not a once-off donation”, the motion said. “Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of US foreign aid.”

Proposing the motion at Council Officer for Students with Disabilities Keely Jenkinson said: “Trinity has not condemned the crimes being committed against innocent Palestinian people.”

“If Trinity wont take a stand i think it’s up to the students to take a stand.”

She said she does not “want Joe Biden to have any connection with this College” and “Joe Biden, who always bangs on about his Irish heritage, clearly has no idea what Irish people went through during British occupation”.

Also speaking in favour of the motion TCD Postgraduate Workers Organisation (TCD PWO) President Jeffrey Seathrún Sardinia said Biden “is not about democracy, he is not about free speech”.

“People who actually do PHDs and actually earn degrees have to put in work.”

The motion noted that by February 2022, the US had sent $150 billion in bilateral assistance to Israel, figures based on a 2023 US Congressional Research Service report.

“This money goes to fund Israel’s oppressive security forces, which brutalises Palestinian men, women and children every day,” the motion said.

It suggested “weapons may be sent via Shannon Airport” in Limerick, which it believes may violate the State’s stance of military neutrality. 

It noted the union’s long-term policy of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, as well as College’s own mission statement promising to engage “with issues of global significance” and a “dedication to societal reform”.

The motion said that Biden’s honorary doctorate degree is therefore in conflict with both the College’s values and the student body’s views, as well as “a dereliction of duty to the oppressed people of Palestine”.  

Molnárfi previously told Trinity News that “the United States is an imperialist power that has brought nothing but suffering and destruction to the world”.

“The most egregious of the crimes of the United States and their Presidents is their constant support for the apartheid state of Israel,” he said.“Joe Biden, current U.S. President, exemplifies this, supporting Israel publicly and enthusiastically.”

This vote comes two weeks after students supported by TCDSU wrote a letter to the provost demanding that College “sever all ties with the Israeli war industry”.