UCD students set up encampment demanding university cuts ties with Israel

UCCSU and UCD BDS have said that the action is a “necessary escalation” in demanding accountability from college leadership

Students at University College Dublin (UCD) have established an encampment on the university’s campus demanding that it cut all ties with Israel amid its genocidal campaign in Gaza.

At 6.30pm, dozens of tents were set up beside the lake at the centre of UCD campus, similar to the encampment in Trinity last weekend.

In a statement, UCDSU and UCD Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) said the encampment is a response to UCD’s refusal to address concerns regarding its stance on Gaza, “including the absence of a call for a permanent ceasefire and a reluctance to review partnerships with Israeli institutions”.

Protestors are demanding that UCD discloses and severs all ties, academic and financial, with Israeli institutions, commits to divest from Israeli companies, and provides scholarships for Palestinian students to attend UCD.

They are also demanding that UCD make a public statement calling for an end to the genocide of the Palestinian people by the state of Israel, the complete dismantling of the Israeli illegal and colonial settlements in Palestine and the liberation of all Palestinian hostages and the right for displaced Palestinians to return.

It further demands that UCD call for a one-state solution to the Israel-Palestine question, “allowing for a peaceful, democratic and inclusive Palestine to flourish within the region”.

“This encampment will continue until these demands are met,” the statement said.

“As students and academics within UCD we will no longer accept the morally inconsistent and continued feigned neutrality of the university in the face of an ongoing genocide.”

In 2022, UCD joined other universities in condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its violation of international law.

The protestors’ statement concluded: “We will not accept the inclusion of any neutral statement that condemns all forms of violence on both sides, which creates a false moral and material equivalence, underplaying the genocidal destruction Israel has unleashed on the Palestinian people.”

The groups emphasised that the encampment is a “peaceful expression of empathy and solidarity”, adding that “no ill will is intended toward any member of the community, including students, staff, management, or otherwise”.

They further added that they are willing to engage “in good faith and respectful dialogue” with the university in addressing the encampment and its demands.

The move from UCD students’ adds to a global movement of Gaza solidarity encampments which have sprung up on university campuses around the world, beginning in Columbia University and spreading across the US.

Last week Trinity College Dublin students’ Union (TCDSU) and Trinity BDS established the first such encampment in Ireland, joining a wave of such protests across Europe.

Earlier this week, University College Cork (UCC) agreed to divest from Israel following threats of escalated action by its students’ union days after the success of protestors in Trinity.

The full list of UCD protestors’ demands is as follows:

  1. Sever links with Israeli institutions through ending current academic ties, and by committing to no new academic ties with the settler colonial state of Israel.
  2. Disclose all ties, academic and financial, to Israeli institutions. Additionally full disclosure of the existence of any funds of the University which are held as stocks or bonds, or in investment funds. Commit to divest from Israeli companies and establish an oversight body, composed of reps from the Students’ Union, UCD BDS and Academics for Palestine, to oversee this divestment.
  3. Provide scholarships for Palestinian students, through the University of Sanctuary programme. Ring fence a number of scholarships, and support to include accommodation, mental and physical wellbeing supports, and other accessibility needs and recruitment team.
  4. Create expedited pathways for Palestinian Academics to work within UCD and create partnerships with destroyed Palestinian Universities to provide sanctuary for displaced Palestinian academics, with a long-term commitment to assist in the rebuilding and re-constitution of academic life and infrastructure within Palestine.
  5. Remove Israeli goods and supplier contracts from campus in line with the BDS campaign. 
  6. Develop a policy on ethical investment. Immediately cut ties, financial or otherwise, into companies tied to weapons, military manufacturing, or ‘dual use goods’, Israeli or otherwise.
  7. Release a public statement on behalf of the University, similar to when Russia invaded Ukraine, recognising;
    a. The disproportionate onslaught  of the Palestinian people by the Israeli state and the ongoing genocide in Palestine.
    b.
    The destruction of all Universities in Palestine, and the targeted murder of students and academics, as an unacceptable attack of academic freedom, expression and safety.
    c.
    The inadequate current response from UCD management and a commitment to protect the freedom of assembly and protest on campus, to protect students that take part in such protests and to engage with them as equals to avoid unnecessary escalations.
    Include in this public statement a call for;
    d. An end to the genocide of the Palestinian people by the state of Israel.
    e. Call for the complete dismantling of the Israeli illegal and colonial settlements in Palestine.
    f. Call for the liberation of all Palestinian hostages and the right for displaced Palestinians to return.
    g. Call for a one-state solution, absent of any ethno-states in the region, allowing for a peaceful, democratic and inclusive Palestine to flourish within the region.
    h. Call on the government to enact the Occupied Territories Bill and to expel the Israeli ambassador, in light of their continued propagandising for the Israeli state and attack on the democratic institutions of our country.
  8. Create an anti-apartheid UCD campus through actions such as expanding de-colonial studies, holding space for discussions on Palestine and the settler-colonial state of Israel, and creating anti-apartheid criteria for awarding honorary degrees.
  9. Fly the Palestinian Flag on campus in solidarity, similar to when Russia invaded Ukraine, until a permanent ceasefire is agreed.
  10. Commitment to name the under-construction “Centre of Future Learning” building the “Refaat Alareer Centre for Learning”.
  11. Give amnesty for students and staff involved in protest from internal University sanctions and to not pursue legal charges.

David Wolfe

David Wolfe is a Junior Sophister student of History and Political Science. He is the current Social Media and Managing Editor of Trinity News, having previously served as News Editor, Assistant News Editor and copyeditor.