Dear Professor Lorraine McIlrath,
I am László Molnárfi, Chairperson of Students 4 Change, which is an independent, open-forum, democratic alliance of progressive students from Trinity College Dublin. We stand for more democracy, openness and transparency within College, and for public education for all.
I am writing to bring to your attention, as Chair of Universities of Sanctuary in Ireland, an issue which I believe requires attention.
One of Students4Change’s campaigns is Students 4 Peace, which brings together students fighting for pacifist and humanitarian principles, and for Irish neutrality. Namely, one of our goals is making Trinity College Dublin divest from war-related stocks. We have found out through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request that as of 2020, Trinity College Dublin invests ~2.6 million euros into Arms and Weaponry manufacturers, such as BAE systems, Lockheed Martin and the Boeing Company through its endowment fund.
One of these companies, Lockheed Martin, ‘is proud of the significant role it has fulfilled in the security of the State of Israel’, producing F-35 fighter jets and other weapons which have been used in the indiscriminate killing of Palestinians by the Israeli government. The complicity of Trinity in the bloodshed around the world caused by the international arms trade needs to stop, as seen not only with the latter example but also with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and countless conflicts around the world. Unfortunately, these investments at the moment stand opposed not only to Trinity’s values as a university, which includes ethical awareness and engaging with issues of global significance in a way that improves society for the better, but also against its pledge as part of its University of Sanctuary status.
These arms and weaponry manufacturers view the migration of refugees and subsequent border security as an opportunity to make money, being at odds with the idea of supporting refugees. Divestment would send a strong message that we as a society do not see the arms industry as legitimate businesses to do trade with, due to the immense human and environmental devastation they cause the world. Divestment campaigns like that from fossil fuels prove that divestment is a viable action that universities can take. It is possible to divest from war-related stocks and take up ethical investments in their place.
I believe that all Universities of Sanctuary should not just be at the forefront of sustainability and institutional environmental divestment, but also at the forefront of promoting peace, human rights and Irish neutrality. I am raising these concerns as at the moment, it seems that Universities of Sanctuary is not considering these matters. I believe that this needs to change and that the organization should push its member universities towards divesting from the war-industry.
I simply fail to understand how Trinity College Dublin – or indeed any university on the island with such investments – can be considered to be a place of sanctuary in light of these facts. As a final thought, if the organization does not address these concerns with adequate attention, I do not understand what makes the accreditation of being a University of Sanctuary different from that of, to take an example, a company greenwashing its image. It is therefore with the spirit of living up to the award’s name that I ask for urgent action in this matter from you.
Thank you for your attention,
Students 4 Change
is an alliance of Marxist and Anarchist students from Trinity College Dublin focused on the housing crisis in relation to student accommodation, Irish neutrality, SU reform and other matters of student politics. Go on our website students4change.eu, follow us on social media or email us at [email protected]!