War in Gaza 

Like universities around the world, in Trinity we have students and staff who feel strongly and passionately about the war in Gaza. I have been listening to many voices over the past months and I thought it might be useful to address some questions that have been raised during those discussions.   

What is my view about the war?  
I abhor and condemn all violence and war, including the atrocities of October 7th, the taking of hostages, and the continuing, ferocious and disproportionate onslaught in Gaza. The humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the dehumanisation of its people is obscene. I fully endorse the International Court of Justice order that enjoins Israel from violating the Genocide Convention. I have not met anyone in Trinity who does not want this to come to a permanent end. I say ‘permanent end’ because even the word ‘ceasefire’ sounds too temporary to me. A real and lasting solution that respects the human rights of everyone needs to be found. 

What are we doing about investments?  

Trinity has an Endowment Fund which includes investment in a portfolio of companies. The individual companies in this portfolio are not hand-picked by Trinity but generated by our investment managers based on investment parameters we set. As we learn more, we find better ways to refine our portfolio; so, for example, in 2021/22 we worked with the investment managers to create a very green equity portfolio that went beyond simple divestment of fossil fuels, armaments and tobacco. Currently, our selection of companies is guided by the UN Global Compact Violators List, the UN Level 5 Controversy List, and the ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) performance of the company. Over the past few months, we have been doing further work and, as a result of this, the portfolio will be updated with reference to the UN blacklist.   

What are we doing about ties with institutions?  

Academic freedom is the cornerstone of our identity as a university. It permits colleagues to collaborate with partners of their choosing, free from pressure from government, college authorities and other voices. It is recognised by the Universities Act (1997), defended by our Statutes, upheld by international agreements to which we are a signatory, and outlined in detail in our own policy on academic freedom. Our commitment to academic freedom underpins the claim to autonomy that we make to government and wider society. I do not want to see the erosion of academic freedom in Ireland, in a way we have seen in other countries. 

Some in our community argue that Trinity should ensure all ties with Israeli institutions are cut. Such decisions rest with each individual academic. Some colleagues will see value in maintaining a free exchange of ideas; others will feel deeply uncomfortable having any relationship at all. Fundamentally, it is the right of the individual academic to make this decision, and no assumption about an academic’s political views should be inferred from those decisions.  

How are we helping practically? 

Trinity is a University of Sanctuary, and we can use this designation to find practical ways of providing educational support for Gaza. Trinity Global is working with local and international stakeholders including “We are not numbersand our embassy contacts to facilitate access to Trinity for students from Gaza seeking to continue their education. The School of Business, School of Law, School of Medicine, School of Languages, Literatures & Cultural Studies, School of Linguistic, Speech & Communication Sciences, School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and the International Foundation Programme are all involved, and we have identified places for six postgrads and two undergrads so far. I also met with the Palestinian Ambassador in March to discuss future plans for education in Gaza and we will continue to work with her on that. 

What are you doing for students and staff who feel threatened? 

Trinity is an increasingly diverse community with 31% of students from outside the island of Ireland. There is also greater diversity in the Irish population, and we have staff from all around the world. We have sought to support all of those affected by the war no matter where they come from or what their political stance. The Trinity Global Experience team supports students, both individually and collectively, through hosting events and working 1:1 with students. I also want to be absolutely clear that all forms of racism, including antisemitism and Islamophobia, have absolutely no place here. I encourage you to examine our Dignity and Respect policy , which aims to maintain a safe environment for staff and students, free from any form of harassment