May 2, 2024

College Moves US Military Event Off-Campus to Avoid Opposition

To avoid “reputational damage” amid the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict, College privately hosted a funding arm of the US military off-campus, prompting criticism from the TCDSU BDS Implementation Group.

Clara RocheEditor
Photo by Alex Payne for The University Times

On February 26th, 2024, members of the Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement planned to protest an event held by the Centre for Research on Adaptive Nanostructures and Nanodevices (CRANN), where DEVCOM, a funding arm of the US military, was invited to speak.  

DEVCOM, the US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, is a team of scientists whose self-described functions include “soldier lethality” and other military applications. 

The US provides approximately $3.8 billion in annual aid to Israel, which is used to support the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in purchasing US-made military equipment and services. 


When no-one appeared to attend the event, the BDS group submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the College, which revealed that the event was covertly relocated to an off-campus location to avoid potential opposition from students and staff. The event cost College nearly €2,000 towards hotel and catering expenses. 

In correspondence seen by The University Times, organisers of the event admitted “we thought it best not to widely publicise this one given how controversial US foreign policy is at the moment”. 

The correspondence revealed concerns about the “reputational damage” and “negative publicity” that might be caused by the event and opposition to it. One individual involved in the organisation said that, “given the ongoing situation in Gaza and US support of the [IDF]”, the event “might create some tensions”. 

In a statement, Chair of BDS Isobel Duffy said: “While over 30,000 people in Gaza have been murdered, Trinity continues to collaborate with warmongering genocidal states in a variety of ways […] Trinity continues to side with money and reputation over human life.” 

Duffy continued: “We must not be discouraged by College’s attempts at intimidation and their unwillingness to listen. I encourage all students to get active and get involved to hold our College and senior management to account.” 

TCDSU President László Molnárfi expressed similar concerns, saying that the event and its relocation “represents yet another flagrant disregard for the student and staff voice as well as ethical considerations. Profit seems to come before everything in this College.” 

He said that Israel would not be able to sustain its controversial military operations “without the support of the US”. 

DEVCOM continues to fund individual academic projects at Trinity, “which have no military or defence related applications”. 

The University Times has reached out to a College representative for comment. 


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