UCD School of Geography pen’s solidarity statement demanding for college to call for a ceasefire in Gaza

Image Credit: JP via Wikimedia Commons

On Friday, February 9th, staff and students from the UCD College of Social Sciences and Law released a joint statement calling for the college’s acknowledgment of the ongoing violence unfolding in Gaza.

On Friday, February 9th, staff and students of the UCD College of Social Sciences and Law released a joint statement calling for the college’s acknowledgment of the ongoing violence unfolding in Gaza. Specifically, the solidarity letter, penned by members of the School of Geography, calls for student and staff signatures to reevaluate the role institutions of higher education play in geopolitical issues. The statement decries “the lack of a formal statement from UCD” which prompted the need to “issue [their] own”. 

The statement, shared on the official UCD BDS Instagram account, makes several demands. 

It firstly calls for an explicit condemnation of the attacks that have rendered the continuation of education in Gaza impossible by UCD. It continues to demand support for the campaign for a total and permanent ceasefire; to recognize the International Court of Justice’s interim ruling that attacks on Gaza represent a plausible example of contemporary genocide, to suspend all formal and informal ties with Israeli institutions of higher education in accordance with the demands made by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and finally to ensure the safety, respect, and dignity of the members of the university community of Palestinian or Jewish descent through a zero-tolerance of xenophobic or racist rhetoric on campus. 

This ultimate plea for college accountability comes after repeated attempts from the UCD Students’ Union, staff, and students to elicit an explicit statement from the university’s governing authority and to see it “follow in its footsteps” and respond to this crisis the way they did during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Similarly, last November, an official UCD Students’ Union petition saw members from the UCD community come together to urge the university to reconsider its stance on the ongoing military activities in Palestine. The petition was addressed to UCD President Prof. Orla Feely and underscored the importance of institutions in higher education in bringing about peace or jeopardizing it. Despite this, no official stance was taken by the president or any member of the UCD governing authority. 

While efforts in the name of Palestinian solidarity continue across campus, this recent statement begs the question of whether or not UCD will ever claim a position on the ongoing crisis and follow in the footsteps of its Galwegian counterpart. Indeed, the University of Galway’s President, Prof. Ciarán Ó hÓgarthaig, has announced the college is set to further investigate its relationship with Israeli institutions. In a statement to staff and students since reported by The Irish Times, university present Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgarthaith recognised the role of universities in the crisis and joined calls for an immediate ceasefire: “As a university community,  particular responsibility to oppose the deliberate destruction of facilities of higher learning [...]. We call for accountability for such crimes, and an end to the killing”. He continued to say: “We join calls for an immediate, permanent ceasefire and the release of hostages”.