Monday, February 20, 2017

My Correspondence with the UCD Vice-President for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

I'm reproducing a correspondence I've had with the above university official, prompted by a circular email I received promoting 'equality' events. (I suggest you skim that message, which is the first one.) I don't see anything wrong with publishing it here, but I've omitted the person's name, out of a sense of delicacy. My first response was prompted by irritation at receiving so many of these propagandistic messages.

I think we need to do this kind of thing more often; to challenge assumptions of neutrality and assent, not to let them pass without challenge or at least question. I think I was perfectly polite. The 'political badges' refers to the Yes Equality badges which were all over UCD during the time of the Irish gay marriage referendum.

Dear Maolsheachlann,
In my new role as Vice-President for Equality, Diversity & Inclusion I would like to bring to your attention three events coming up shortly that celebrate the UCD community.

1. Launch of the UCD LGBTI Staff Network – Wednesday, 22 February 

This new network works in partnership with colleagues and students to create a safe, inclusive and diverse culture where everyone in UCD regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity can reach their full potential. 

We have made great progress in recent years to advance equality for LGBTI staff in UCD, including raising the Rainbow flag in Belfield for Dublin Pride in 2016 and the establishment of an LGBTI sub-group working to the UMT EDI Group.  To mark these significant achievements, we are honoured that the Network will be launched by the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD. 

Wednesday, 22 February 2017, 6-8pm
Atrium of the UCD O’Brien, Science Centre

The event will feature “The Road to Equality” exhibition which celebrates the 40 years of activism that reshaped Ireland culminating in the introduction of marriage equality and legal gender recognition in 2015.  The Dublin LGBTI choir GLORIA will enchant guests with beautiful vocals and food and refreshments will be provided.

If you would like to attend the event, please register at: Eventbrite Registration LGBTI Staff Network Launch

2. Strictly UCD – Saturday, 4 March

Strictly UCD will be a fun-filled night which aims to engage, build community and inspire creativity across UCD, while supporting two very worthwhile causes, UCD Volunteers Overseas and Gorta Self Help Africa.  Over 40 amateur dancers from our UCD community will perform on the night.

Saturday, 4 March 2017, doors 7pm, show 8pm
UCD O’Reilly Hall

Details of the dancers competing and a link to purchase tickets online are available at Tickets are also available directly from the dancers and I encourage you to offer any support you can through buying tickets or sponsoring our contestants.

This is a collaborative event between the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion committee, Culture and Engagement – UCD HR, and UCD in the Community. 

3. International Women’s Day – Wednesday, 8 March

UCD will join organisations across the globe in marking International Women’s Day again this year. This year’s theme is “Be Bold for Change”.  Through conversation and celebration, we will be pledging our support to help forge gender equality on International Women’s Day and beyond. For further details on events and actions you can take, watch this space,

I hope to meet you at these events.
Best wishes,
Prof. S-----------
Vice-President for Equality, Diversity & Inclusion

Dear Mr. S----
Thank you for your email on events that promote identity and inclusion in UCD.

Are there any initatives to foster and protect diversity of opinion, rather than diversity of identity, in UCD?
Many thanks

Dear Maolsheachlann,

Many thanks for your message. I would say that fostering diversity of opinion is rather central to what we do as a University, supported by academic freedom, and we have many events on the campus at which a wide range of opinion is to be found, organised by schools and Colleges and also by students societies. Did you have something particular in mind?

Best wishes,

Hi ------

Thanks for your reply.

In terms of events you could hold, perhaps some lectures on threats to religious freedom and freedom of conscience in Irish society would help balance the ledger. You might contact Dr. Mark Dooley, former philosophy lecturer in UCD, and ask him to give a lecture on the plight of the conservative academic in Irish humanities and social science departments.

I rarely attend events in UCD, because of my commuting time, so the likelihood is that I would never attend such events anyway. But it would be nice to see something different on the programme. Although I certainly can't complain about the provision of religious facilities in UCD-- Catholics are excellently served, as I believe are other faiths-- I do feel the climate in the university is inhospitable for anyone with opinions at variance with the liberal left. Yes, much of this is simply a by-product of academic freedom, and I accept that, but it seems to me also an area for any diversity policy to address.

One thing I think you could work on is to examine the appropriateness of political badges in the workplace. I have no desire to strangle freedom of expression, but I do feel political badges are inappropriate when they are worn by university staff on duty.

Thanks again, and best wishes,

That was last week. No reply as yet...


  1. Well, you said all that you can say.... Ties in a bit with the death of Norma McCorvey(Roe vs Wade) this week. The media here didn't try to hide her pro life turnaround and one report mentioned that she had actually been arrested for protesting pro choice Obama's presence at NotreDame uni. A bit extreme maybe, but imagine!

  2. Her death was passed over in complete silence here. At least, I didn't hear anything in the Irish media about it.