How Pro-Palestinian Students Pushed Trinity College Dublin to Divest

Discontent over the war in Gaza had been building for months at Trinity College Dublin, but what had been a rumble last week suddenly became a roar. News broke that Trinity had demanded a heavy sum from the student union after protests had blocked tourist access to the Book of Kells, a major attraction for paying visitors.

Trinity’s request for about $230,000 enraged students and brought a surge of media attention, and last Friday some anti-war demonstrators set up an encampment like those at American schools.

Irish lawmakers worried that the university was trying to stifle independent protest, and there were offers of help from lawyers and pro-Palestinian groups. The university closed parts of its campus that day, citing security concerns.

As the campus dispute became a national one, Trinity, Ireland’s oldest and most prestigious university, agreed on Monday to negotiate with pro-Palestinian demonstrators. Capping several head-spinning days, Trinity agreed first to abandon some Israeli investments, a step that nearly all U.S. colleges and universities have so far resisted, and then said on Wednesday that it would look into divesting from all such investments.

“It felt like we had won,” said Jenny Maguire, president-elect of the student union. “Not just us, but every person that campaigned for this had won. We got exactly what we wanted and what we came there to do.

She said of the university, “It was shocking how quickly they turned around.”

A student encampment on the grounds of Trinity College on Monday. Credit…Damien Eagers/Reuters
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