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Israel & Gaza: A message from the President, 20 November 2023

Posted 22 November 2023

This is a message to all UCD students and employees.

We are all affected, in different ways, by the conflict and terrible loss of life in Israel and Gaza. UCD is committed to supporting all staff and students to feel safe and supported in their learning, work and wider engagement at our University.

One of our most fundamental commitments as a University is that all members of our community have the right to be treated with dignity and respect. This is more important than ever at a time of division and polarisation in the wider world, when it is vital that we as a community maintain an environment of civility and mutual respect within UCD.

Under our Bullying and Harassment Policy, harassment will not be tolerated within UCD and can lead to disciplinary action. Harassment is defined as any form of unwanted conduct related to any of the discriminatory grounds under the Employment Equality Acts (including race and religion) which has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity and creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.

The University has a highly experienced Dignity and Respect Support Service staffed by full-time professionals who are there to support and provide guidance to any member of the University community. Further details of supports for students and staff are available here, and this page will be updated as needed.

Additional support is available through the Estate Services emergency line 01 716 7999, which is available 24/7 and can be used to request assistance or report issues. Should individuals wish, they can request through this pathway to meet the Campus Duty Manager, who can gather information, support and escalate appropriately.

If it becomes clear that staff or student disciplinary policies have been broken at any point, then disciplinary action will be taken.

In the event that the University receives reports of potentially criminal behaviour, the Garda Síochána are contacted. The University has the service of a Community Garda to offer support and advice to individuals in such a case.

Finally, I have received requests to commit the University to particular (and distinct) positions in relation to the conflict. It is not my policy to express positions on behalf of UCD in respect of geopolitical issues. Members of our University community have the absolute right to express a diversity of viewpoints within the law, mindful of our commitment to dignity and respect, and one of our most fundamental obligations as a University is to uphold this right. Were it to be our practice to take an institutional position on geopolitical matters, we would be inhibiting the freedom of members of our community to express their individual positions and suppressing our ability to sustain and respect a diversity of views. This position is described very eloquently and in greater detail in the (opens in a new window)Kalven Report of the University of Chicago.

That I do not issue statements on geopolitical matters should not be interpreted as indifference to suffering of those within our community or in the wider world – I am deeply affected by the suffering and loss of life at the present time. Rather, in the face of what will often be conflicting views and local and global tensions, it is a path to focusing on the particular responsibilities of the University and maintaining both academic freedom and an inclusive intellectual community where civil discourse on divisive issues is possible.

My priority is to ensure a safe, supportive and respectful environment in UCD, in which views, even on topics of intense polarisation, are shared with civility and consideration. I trust that I will have your support in this.

Le gach dea-ghuí,

Professor Orla Feely