Poll shows UCD students, staff and self-identified alumni predominantly support UCD Palestinian solidarity encampment

Image Credit: Tessa Ndjonkou

75,8% of polled Students, Staff, and alumni expressed disapproval of the college's response to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza

Current UCD students, members of staff, and alumni (all self-identified) were asked to respond to a poll about how they felt the college was handling the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The poll was conducted between Monday, 13th May at 4 pm and Tuesday, 14th May at 4 pm. The poll received a total of 684 responses with 529 (85%) being from current students. 

The encampment started on Saturday, May 11 at 6 p.m., and 85,1% of the students, staff, and alumni surveyed stated they were in favor of it. 

The encampment started on Saturday, May 11 at 6 p.m., and 85,1% of the students, staff, and alumni surveyed stated they were in favor of it. 

The poll appears to be at odds with UCD’s current position of neutrality and claims of the safeguarding of academic freedom. Indeed, in a statement released to all students and staff on Sunday afternoon, the president reiterated that UCD does not have any formal investments with Israel, but does participate in EU research projects as a member of multi-partner networks. After acknowledging these academic ties she insisted that UCD fully respects the academic freedom of UCD researchers to continue these research collaborations. 

UCD BDS and UCDSU laid out their demands for the encampment and made clear that it would not be removed until all demands were met, including the total divestment of UCD from its EU-funded collaborative research projects with Israeli institutions. 

According to the poll, respondents approved of UCDSU's response to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza by 78,8%, while 14,1% disapproved.

According to the poll, respondents approved of UCDSU's response to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza by 78,8%, while 14,1% disapproved.

The University Observer spoke to students directly in the days following the set up of the encampment who voiced their ideological support of the encampment. Two second-year engineering students, told The University Observer, on the condition of anonymity, “I’m all for it in theory as long as it’s peaceful”. Students sitting on the opposite side of the UCD Main Lake where the encampment is set up said: “It’s good [that this is happening]. It’s for a good cause, especially after the success the Trinity College one had, it’s a good thing that UCD is doing it too”. They contended however that they would be more likely to support from afar and donate resources as opposed to “actively participating”. Killian McCullagh, a second-year biology student, told The University Observer, “I was thinking of camping, I was waiting and hoping for a similar thing [to Trinity] to happen in UCD. So once I’m done with exams, I’ll go”. 

“I’m all for it in theory as long as it’s peaceful”.

According to  The University Observer poll, 73,7% of respondents feel that UCD President Orla Feely’s response to the ongoing genocidal campaign carried out by Israel in Gaza has not been sufficient. This indicates a broad consensus against the neutral stance she has foregrounded in the Kalven Report published by The University of Chicago in 1967. This stance was also criticised by TD Ruth Coppinger during the IPSC emergency solidarity protest for the Trinity College encampment and by People Before Profile TD Richard Boyd Barrett. Speaking to The University Observer, ahead of the UCD BDS and Mothers against Genocide protest held on the N11 bridge on Tuesday, May 15th, he said: “I just find it shocking the double standards that have been displayed by various institutions in the state, including universities, when it comes to Ukraine, as opposed to Palestine. They were falling over themselves to express, rightly, horror at the Russian brutal assault on Ukraine and their solidarity with the people of Ukraine, but yet then they plead neutrality when it comes to a genocidal assault being inflicted on the Palestinian people”. 

“I just find it shocking the double standards that have been displayed by various institutions in the state, including universities, when it comes to Ukraine, as opposed to Palestine.

Similarly, 83,5% of respondents in the poll maintained that UCD should take a stance on the ongoing humanitarian crisis. 

End of article note: The University Observer notes that because UCD has cancelled alumni emails, it is difficult to certify that those voting are truly UCD alumni. As such, this article will refer to alumni as “self-identified” and account for a possible margin of error.