Two hundred people attended a black lives matter rally in DCU today. The protest was held following images being circulated on social media of a blog of a DCU lecturer.
A lecturer of computing, Mark Humphrys, used his blog to level criticism at the BLM protest movement which most recently gained traction across the United States following the murder of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25th 2020. Humphrys is also a vocal critic of the Muslim community, stating “many Muslims in the West want to see Islamic sharia law implemented, and western freedom ended.” Humphrys has also contributed to the Sunday Times and RTÉ, and has been invited to debates at the L&H and NUIG
In a blog post entitled “George Floyd Protests 2020” Mr Humphrys stated that Mr. Floyd was “another useless criminal who dug his own grave.” Furthermore, the post stated that Floyd uttered “an unending stream of bullshit and gibberish” when he saw the police. Humphry then added “it is no wonder (the police officers) did not listen to his ‘I can’t breathe’.”
On the 23rd of November, Mr. Humphrys released a statement responding to the criticism his blog post had received. In the statement, he claimed that he does not discuss politics with his students and added “my thoughts whether crazy or clever, or both are my own, they are nothing to do with DCU.” Finally Humphry asks “leave DCU out of this.”
Daragh Adelaide, one of the organisers of the demonstration and the local area representative for People Before Profit in Clondalkin addressed the crowd at the demonstration. Adelaide stated that the protest was about more than just one lecturer; “it's about coming together as a community and supporting black students.” Adelaide also urged those in attendance to support asylum seekers, those in direct provision and highlighted the dedication of black and immigrant workers who held up the health service during the course of the pandemic.
When asked by the University Observer if the demonstration was held in order to call for the removal of Mr Humphry, Adelaide stated that “we are here to celebrate black lives". Speakers at the protest largely echoed Adelaide's focus on wider issues of racism, mentioning Direct Provision, treatment of migrant workers, and the lack of an independent investigation into the fatal shooting of George Nkencho by An Garda Síochána last December.
A brief statement released by DCU on the 23rd of November stated that it is aware of the blog posts but that “the issues discussed and views expressed by the individual are done so in a personal capacity” and that they do not reflect the views of the university, its staff or its student body.”
Speaking with regard to the statement made by the university, Mr Adelaide said, “Can you really hold any opinion privately.” Adelaide also referenced the case of UCD professor, Dolores Cahill, who garnered media attention for her outlandish views regarding Covid-19. Adelaide added, “colleges do need to decide where they draw the line”. Another organiser of the demonstration, Christine O’Mahony, a UCD alum and Current DCU Student, also spoke to the University Observer about Humphrys views being "personal". O’Mahony stated that once those views are made public it seriously impacts on students. O’Mahony also called into question whether or not the lecturer could remain impartial when grading students.
In an interview with Trinity News published yesterday, Mr Humphry claimed that a statement made by the DCU Students Union this week was libelous and asked for it to be removed. Speaking to the University Observer today, Terrence Rooney, the president of DCUSU stated that they would not be removing the statement. DCUSU is urging former and current students of Mr. Humphry to come forward and share their experiences of the lecturer with the Union.
The Universities Act, Section 14 part 2 states; “A member of the academic of a university shall have the freedom, within the law, in his or her teaching, research and any other activities either in or outside the university, to question and test received wisdom, to put forward new ideas and to state controversial or unpopular opinions and shall not be disadvantaged, or subject to less favourable treatment by the the university, for the exercise of that freedom."