“Trinity cannot be neutral” – TCDSU and Trinity BDS call for end to College’s “neutrality” on Gaza genocide

The joint statement criticised College’s “hypocrisy” with relation to the ongoing conflict

Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) and Trinity Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (Trinity BDS) have released a statement calling on College to drop its neutral stance on the Israeli bombardment of Gaza.

Under the title “Trinity cannot be neutral”, the statement was a direct response to the contents of College emails uncovered through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the Business Post, in which an official described that the College’s “stance is to remain neutral on issues” such as the Gaza genocide.

Referencing to the description of Israel’s actions as a “textbook case of genocide” made by Israeli professor of Holocaust studies Raz Segal, the statement said that “the words “neutral” and “genocide” should never appear together in the same sentence”. 

“The International Court of Justice plans to investigate Israel for genocide. However, Trinity College Dublin would prefer to remain “neutral” regarding this”, the joint statement said.

In a now deleted comment on the official College Instagram account, TCDSU said: “Wishing all innocents being murdered in Gaza the very best of luck #studentlife #haveaconscience.” The comment was made under a post from College wishing students sitting the Foundation Scholarship exams luck.  

In statement to Trinity News TCDSU Communications and Marketing officer Aiesha Wong explained the comment: “The comment you included in the TN article I accidentally made on the SU account instead of my personal one, which is why it was deleted.”

Accusing College of being contradictory in the application of its neutral stance, the statement also mentioned College’s continued ties to more than a dozen Israeli institutions, some of which, it says, are “directly involved in the war industry”.

“This directly violates the academic boycott that has been called by the BDS movement,” the letter continued.

“Trinity maintains these connections despite multiple protests being called by students. In fact, at these protests, College staff have tried to suppress student voices, which we find incredibly disappointing.”

It also mentioned the removal of Palestinian flags from the windows of student residences and society rooms by College staff “without permission”, which the statement affirmed was evidence of “College’s intent to suppress students’ discontent with its implicity in this genocide.”

The statement goes on to accuse College of hypocrisy on its neutral stance on the Gaza genocide, given its previous outward support for Ukraine following the Russian invasion almost two years ago.

“College rightly lit up Front Gate in the Ukrainian colours following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and has not removed the Ukrainian flags that were placed around Campus.”

The letter mentions a photo-op featuring Provost Linda Doyle with the Ukrainian flag, which was posted to social media following the onset of the war.

“College clearly picks and chooses which issues it should remain “neutral” on. We are simply asking that this hypocrisy be remedied,” the statement continued.

Arguing that by staying neutral in cases of “great injustice” means siding with the oppressor, the joint TCDSU–Trinity BDS statement declared that the college community as a whole “cannot remain neutral on apartheid, genocide and war crimes”.

“We must hold our College to account and demand that it cut all ties with apartheid Israel. Trinity students refuse to be complicit, and College management must listen to our demands,” the letter concluded.

This article was updated at 5:21pm on January 9 to add the statement from Aiesha Wong relating to the comment on College’s Instagram post. 

Evan Skidmore O’Reilly

Evan Skidmore O’Reilly is News Co-Editor for the 70th volume of Trinity News. He is a former Deputy News Editor, and is a current final year Business and Politics student.