Bridget Fitzsimons, News Editor UCD University Observer
A UCD PhD student has had their house fire-bombed by local vandals for the second time in three months. The student, who lives with their family in the house was uninjured in the attack; however, a child with a broken leg was rescued from the building during the fire.
Substantial damage was incurred to the property and the family car was destroyed completely.The incidents, the most recent of which took place on 3rd October, are believed to be racially motivated.In the first attack, the student’s spouse was injured when trying to extinguish a fire in their home. The incidents have forced the student, who does not wish to be named, to leave the area in which they and their family lived, despite overwhelming support from their neighbours.The Human Sciences student is continuing study in UCD after the attacks, and in a statement to a professor in the Graduate School of the College of Human Sciences said that it “hasn’t been easy coping – let alone, the huge instability and loss this attack has brought to our family”.Staff and students of the Graduate School of the College of Human Sciences, where the student is registered have formed a new response toward racism and racist attacks in support of their colleague.Director of the Graduate School of the College of Human Sciences, Professor Ben Tonra, has expressed his disappointment at the attacks. Prof. Tonra stated that staff have invited everyone in the Human Sciences’ Graduate School, supervisors and graduate research students, to “offer suggestions as to how we can respond to this situation.” He said they will also welcome ideas from across the university.Professor Tonra has described the response so far as “powerful” and believes “that there is a strong determination that we should respond collectively in some meaningful way to highlight the issue of racial violence.”His colleague and thematic PhD administrator, Dr Christina Griessler, will be puttputting forward ideas on how to combat such attacks in the future to the college’s Graduate School Board.UCD Students’ Union has also been involved with the response, with Professor Tonra stating that Welfare Officer Scott Ahearn has been notified of the case along with the student’s Doctoral Studies Panel.The student told Prof. Tonra they felt “humbled” by the academic response to the attacks. Prof. Tonra reiterated the School’s support for the student, stating that he believes “that we each have a personal responsibility to address prejudice, intolerance and bigotry within ourselves, our families and our wider social networks,” and that UCD “as a community of scholars … [has] a particular role to play.Prof. Tonra believes that academics “are also in a position to identify strategies – in ourselves, our communities and our wider society – to challenge these attitudes and to provide policy makers and community leaders with the tools necessary to address them.” He further reiterated UCD’s responsibility toward international students, saying that “for a university with a core ambition to internationalise further, we can and should be in the forefront of such efforts.”