Motion to be brought to TCDSU Council on campaign to withdraw Biden’s honorary doctorate

Union members said the US has funded “Israel’s oppressive security forces that brutalise Palestinians”

Union Forum of Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) is bringing a motion to Council calling on College to withdraw its honorary doctorate for US President Joe Biden.

If passed, the union will be mandated to campaign for College to withdraw Biden’s doctorate degree, awarded to him in 2016 when he was vice-president.

The motion was proposed by Union Forum (UF), made up of the union’s sabbatical and part-time officers (PTOs). It will be brought to this evening’s Council.

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.”

It noted by February 2022, the US had sent $150 billion in bilateral assistance to Israel, figures based off 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.

The motion further noted Israel has been recognized as an apartheid state by Amnesty International, based on a 2022 concluding the country’s segregation and control of Palestine “amounts to apartheid”.

It noted the union’s long-term policy of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, including writing a letter to College on October 20 demanding it “end all ties to the Israeli war industry as part of an ongoing campaign for the human rights of the Palestinian people”.

It said Biden’s honorary doctorate is an important part of cutting those ties: “The continued honorary doctorate degree of U.S President Joe Biden is in conflict with both the values of the university, the stance of the student body as well as that it is hypocrisy, and a dereliction of duty to the oppressed people of Palestine.”

TCDSU President László Molnárfi said 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.”

“Israel would not be able commit apartheid and war crimes and genocide without the support of the U.S. and Western powers, and massive military funding” he concluded.

In 2018, students voted to mandate TCDSU’s support for BDS in a referendum that earned 64.5% of votes. The referendum saw the highest turnout in recent years, with 2,316 students voting

Ellen Kenny

Ellen Kenny is the current Deputy Editor of Trinity News and a Senior Sophister student of Politics and Sociology. She previously served as Assistant Editor and Features Editor