Tag Archives: gender equality

More lack of transparency at NUI Galway revealed in big way

There is yet more lack of transparency at NUI Galway.

The University has more than €57 million in a private fund-raising foundation but has resisted declaring the funds despite government pressure, according to a blockbuster story in Tuesday’s Irish Times.

The Campaign has seen such lack of transparency before when it comes to promotions at the University. Some might call it hypocrisy.

The University steadfastly claims that it is ‘comprehensively addressing’ the gender inequality issue, but where is the real change to back up its claim?

If the University is truly addressing gender discrimination, then why have virtually all of the recent appointments for senior posts gone to men? As has been noted before on this website, of the five College Deans — all of whom are male — four have been replaced in the last three years – by four more men!

I think we can all agree that recruitment and appointments should – and must – be transparent at NUI Galway if the University is serious about addressing gender inequality. That’s why it’s so shocking that in NUI Galway’s recent job advertisement for a leader to succeed President Jim Browne, whose term ends next year, there is but a cursory mention of gender equality.

Such a poor reference is particularly glaring because a 2016 Higher Education Authority (HEA) report recommended that new university presidents have leadership skills in advancing gender equality and that this be included in recruitment requirements. (A link for the report is at: http://www.hea.ie/sites/default/files/hea_review_of_gender_equality_in_irish_higher_education.pdf).

Tuesday’s story in The Irish Times reported that NUI Galway and other colleges have now pledged to be more transparent regarding funds raised by private foundations, but went on to say that an independent review is ongoing at the University of Limerick.

More significantly, that review was resisted by UL until a new president – Prof Des Fitzgerald – took over in recent weeks.

Will the new president at NUI Galway be as forthcoming? And what about gender equality? The Campaign is concerned that if NUI Galway’s advertisement for a new president gives short shrift to gender equality, then the new president will not have the leadership skills to advance such equality – skills that were specifically recommended in last year’s HEA report on gender equality in Irish higher-education institutions.

And what about the origins of that HEA report? Yes, the Campaign has discovered even more questions about transparency.

NUI Galway’s draft of its application for the Athena SWAN Bronze Award at https://www.nuigalway.ie/media/nuigalwayie/content/files/aboutus/DRAFT-Athena-SWAN-Application-March-2017.pdf implies that Dr Browne was personally responsible for the commissioning of the report. The draft application states that:

‘In tandem with the establishment of the Gender Equality Task Force in NUI Galway, the President wrote to the then Chief Executive of the Irish Higher Education Authority and asked that the HEA set up a review of Gender Equality across the Irish Higher Education System. The HEA moved as requested and the HEA National Review of Gender Equality in Irish Higher Education Institutions, under the chair of Dr Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Former EU Commissioner was established and reported in June 2016.’

If that’s the case, then why are the report’s very specific recommendations so ignored in the presidential recruitment brochure? (downloadable at https://candidates.perrettlaver.com/vacancies/255/president/

The Campaign could find only one mention of ‘gender’ – on Page 21 of the 25-page brochure. ‘Promote gender balance and equality of opportunity among students and employees of the University’ is one of the points listed under ‘Key Responsibilities’. How many points in all are listed? 10. Where does gender equality rank? 8th. And that one mention comes more than four-fifths of the way through the brochure.

Moreover, the Foreword to the 2016 report on gender equality written by the HEA’s chief executive indicates that it was commissioned by the HEA:

‘Reflecting the requirement, enshrined in higher education legislation, for institutions to promote gender-balance among students and staff, and for the Higher Education Authority to promote the attainment of equality of opportunity, we commissioned this review.’ 

There is no mention of NUI Galway requesting the review.

2016 HEA report

The Expert Group’s “HEA National Review of Gender Equality in Irish Higher Education Institutions”, issued last June, makes a number of recommendations for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).

On Page 47 of the report, Point 1.1 states the objective as: “To foster gender balance in the leadership of HEIs” (our emphasis) and recommends that the final pool of candidates for new university president comprise an equal number of women and men.

“The achievement of gender equality needs to be led from the top,” the report continues, “with the ultimate responsibility for its achievement sitting with the HEI president, or equivalent.

“Therefore, it is the Expert Group’s expectation that all candidates for presidential appointments will have demonstrable experience of leadership in advancing gender equality, and that this will be included in the recruitment criteria and the framework for evaluating the performance of candidates.”

The report recommendations don’t stop there: Point 1.2 states that the objective is “to ensure HEI leaders foster a culture of gender equality in their HEI” and, to do this, it recommends a requirement of appointment will be demonstrable experience of leadership in advancing gender equality.

The actual job description for a new president, as issued by NUI Galway, comes up way short of those recommendations.

The Irish Times story on the foundation funds can be read in full by clicking on this link: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/education/universities-resisted-declaring-tens-of-millions-in-assets-1.3084158#.WRqUjhwzZng

 

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NUI Galway will negotiate with women lecturers: Thursday’s High Court pre-trial hearing and demonstration cancelled

 

The Campaign has just learnt that the four female lecturers and NUI Galway have agreed to mediation.

As a result of the agreement, the pre-trial hearing regarding the gender inequality case that was scheduled to be held on Thursday May 4th in the High Court in Dublin has been adjourned. So the student demonstration outside the High Court that was planned for Thursday has also been cancelled. However, because Micheline is concerned that some people may not receive or hear this news, she intends to still be there outside the High Court in Dublin at 11.30 am on Thursday to explain and thank anyone who turns up.

The four women who are lecturers at NUI Galway had sued the university last year, saying they were not promoted to senior lecturer in the 2008/09 promotion round because of their gender and, with this pre-trial hearing, the university had been trying to have the case dismissed.

The Campaign would like to thank everyone who contributed their time, hard work and money to the women’s fight. It is because of YOUR commitment that this has become such a high-profile case. We believe this is why the university and the women are now undertaking mediation. It is because of YOUR support that the women’s voices are being heard. We thank you immensely for everything.

The Campaign will stand aside while the women seek what they require through mediation and we are wishing them well. If they are satisfied by the outcome, we will celebrate but not be triumphalist about it. But if they are not satisfied with the outcome, the Campaign will continue until they get justice. So please watch this website for future developments.

Thank you again to all our supporters!

Micheline in Village magazine: ‘NUI Galway is actually worse, much worse, than others’

SUMMARY: In case you missed it, Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington has written an excellent article in the January 10th, 2017, edition of the Village magazine about the lack of progress regarding gender equality at NUI Galway since winning her gender equality case at the Equality Tribunal in November 2014. The article, titled “Gender-isory: Not much has changed in NUIG on gender equality, two years after successful EAT case”, details the ongoing problems at the university. 

Quoted below is an excerpt of the article:

mich-crop

Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington

 

My case was a landmark case partly because, despite being in the public service, universities have a lot of autonomy, as they should. However, this has led to a lack of transparency in processes such as the promotion and appointment of academics. This has in turn led to an abuse, or perceived abuse, of power. The universities have been getting away with this for a long time now. 

 

 

 

 

The article is reprinted here in full on this page or you can read it and view accompanying photos and a graph by clicking on the following link:

http://villagemagazine.ie/index.php/2017/01/gender-isory/

Gender-isory

Not much has changed in NUIG on gender equality, two years after successful EAT case

This November marks the second anniversary of my successful gender equality case at the Equality Tribunal against NUI Galway for its failure to appoint me to the post of Senior Lecturer. It was hailed as a landmark case and should have been a call to arms, not just for NUI Galway, but for all third-level institutions. However, the awakening is slow and I doubt that much has changed on the ground – or in attitudes amongst university management.

Currently, many staff in NUI Galway are disillusioned and afraid. Few staff feel able to challenge the authorities. Many are in precarious posts or worried they won’t be promoted. Some staff, I gather, have been reprimanded for speaking out. Fear has filtered through to the students. Recently a society was told it could not display images of Jim Browne, the NUI Galway President in its ‘Mr Browne’s Boys’ cartoon T-shirts at a table supporting five women lecturers pursuing similar litigation. Last April a cartoon exhibition to raise funds and awareness about the five women was booked on campus by the Students Union, but was taken down by Security in the middle of the night.

My case was a landmark case partly because, despite being in the public service, universities have a lot of autonomy, as they should. However, this has led to a lack of transparency in processes such as the promotion and appointment of academics. This has in turn led to an abuse, or perceived abuse, of power. The universities have been getting away with this for a long time now.

However, change comes slowly because university management is not answerable to any board of trustees or shareholders. The governing bodies seem powerless or unwilling to effect change. Ireland has an appalling international record for gender equality in academia. It has been ranked second worst in Europe after Malta for its Glass Ceiling Index in academia. Irish third-level institutions have a lot of catching up to do.

I donated my €70,000 award to five other women who, despite being fully deserving of promotion, had been unsuccessful. Their course of action is far more difficult, with only the High Court as an option because the Equality Tribunal deadline was long past. What I find extraordinary is that the university, instead of conceding errors were made, has chosen to spend large sums of taxpayers’ money fighting these women in the courts through an on-going, protracted and emotionally draining, to say nothing of financially stressful, legal wrangle.The facts were stark in NUI Galway when I took my case in 2009. The proportion of successful applicants was stunningly different for men and women. 50% of male candidates were successful compared to the 6.7% of female candidates who were successful (see Table 1). Summing up twelve points in my favour, the Equality Tribunal ruling highlighted that “perhaps the most significant frailty in the respondent’s [NUI Galway’s] rebuttal” was that in all four recent rounds of promotion to Senior Lecturer combined, men had a one in two and women less than a one in three chance of being promoted. One successful man had not even been eligible to apply.

The Equality Tribunal ruling specified that NUI Galway should send a report to what is now the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission within 12 months of the ruling. I recently got hold of this and am stunned at what took them 13 months to deliver. It comprises two parts, the larger part being an appendix. The first part, three pages long, sets the tone in stating that “a review had already been underway” but fails to specify that this ‘review’ was actually completed in 2011, three years before the Equality Tribunal ruling and is in fact referred to in the ruling.

The first part goes on to repeat the recommendations from that report and devotes one page to the recommendations for the 2013/14 round of promotions, initiated a year before the ruling. No reference is made to the fact that 20 of the candidates deemed suitable but not promoted in that round appealed and that only 18% of female candidates were promoted compared to 35% of male candidates. The consultant’s report commissioned on the back of these appeals is not available even under Freedom of Information (FOI).


There was a burst of outrage in the university on foot of my successful case and the action taken by the five other women. The injustice to the five women was immediately raised at the NUI Galway Údarás (Governing Body). I understand the discussion was heated. However, the minutes of that elevated body are only available under FOI where, as part of the process, any useful information has been redacted. Several heated meetings of the NUI Galway Academic Council, that comprises professors, deans and heads of school, and so is overwhelmingly male, resulted in nothing. It was told it was powerless to change matters.

Large numbers of students joined the campaign to support the five women, horrified to learn that they had not been promoted. “I am joining the campaign because [name of one of the five women] is the best lecturer I’ve ever had” was a common refrain. The Students Union and both staff unions gave their full support and 26 student societies signed up in solidarity to the campaign. This support continues.

What has happened since? A task force was established with much public fanfare and it delivered its final report in May 2016. This was hard-hitting, if limited, since it did not address the position of the five women or focus on non-academic staff, where matters are even worse.

The recommendations of the task force are not faring particularly well. It recommended that 50% of the “major influential” committees should be chaired by women by 2018. However, College Deans (all men) chair such committees and three of them were recently replaced by three more men. The task force suggested a cascade system of promotion. This is being watered down. Although 52% of lecturers are women, only 40% and not 52% of those promoted are required to be women, according to Equality Manager Aoife Cooke.

A new Vice President for Equality and Diversity has been appointed with a starting salary of €106,000 per annum. She may bring about some change, but I have always queried the necessity for this new post that costs more than it would to promote the five women. Sadly, the new Vice President appears to be focusing not on results but on the message that “NUI Galway is no worse than any other university”. This sums up the university’s concern. Image supersedes staff welfare. They are even planning to apply for an Athena Swan award, that recognises advancement of gender equality in universities, while continuing to fight the five women in the Courts. NUI Galway is actually worse, much worse, than others, as HEA figures show.

The Higher Education Authority set up an expert group on gender issues and its report, published last June, includes gendered statistics for Higher Education Institutions. This year’s rankings show NUI Galway, with 21% female senior staff (Professors and Senior Lecturers) to be a clear 6% lower than the next in line, UCC with 27%. These rankings, however, are never referred to and other rankings don’t include gender balance in their metrics. One can only hope there will be competition to avoid being bottom of the list in the rankings, thus bringing about at least some real improvements for female academics.

 

One down, two to go!!!

michtweetcrop (2)

Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington tweeted her opinion regarding the acceptance by NUIG of the Gender Equality Task Force report and its recommendations, including gender quotas, but still no promotion of the five women academics.

Two NUI Galway unions have joined the Micheline’s Three Conditions campaign in welcoming NUI Galway’s Governing Body’s unanimous adoption today of the Gender Equality Task Force report. One of the report’s main recommendations requires gender quotas for promotion to senior academic staff at the university, which fulfills one of the three conditions demanded by the campaign.

However, NUI Galway Students’ Union and IFUT, the academic staff union, along with Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington voiced their serious concerns that the five women academics who have been forced to take their gender discrimination cases to the courts still have not been promoted. Additionally, SIPTU, the other staff union, which faulted the report and the task force that wrote it, saying it was biased and non-independent, also supports the campaign’s demand that the five be promoted.

The Students’ Union, IFUT and the Micheline’s Three Conditions campaign issued a joint statement saying they are deeply worried that NUI Galway management’s only real concern is to stop the bad publicity it has received, without actually addressing a structure which is deeply misogynist and unfair to women.

“Management must also promote the five women who were shortlisted, deemed eligible and not promoted along with Dr Sheehy Skeffington in the 2008/9 round of promotions to Senior Lecturer, rather than take cases to the High Court,” the statement says, pointing out that only one woman was promoted in that round against 16 men, amounting to just 6.7% of the female candidates who applied, compared to 50% of male candidates.

“We insist NUI Galway management ends its intransigence and promotes the five other women. We will continue to jointly campaign for this to happen until NUI Galway does so,” the statement ends.

The Údarás unanimously accepted the final report from the task force looking into gender inequality in senior posts at the university, and its 24 evidence-based recommendations. Two main recommendations are:

-All committees and working groups at the University should have a minimum of 40 per cent of women by the end of this year, while 50 per cent of the chairs of these influential committees should be women by late 2018.

-Mandatory gender quotas are required to ensure more women are promoted to senior academic posts.

The report, written by Prof. Jane Grimson of TCD, recommends that the gender quotas follow a cascade system for the promotion of female academics. The Údarás mandated the newly appointed Vice President for Equality & Diversity to develop an Implementation Plan to be brought to the governing body this Autumn.

The acceptance of the report is the first time that any Irish university, educational institution, state or semi-state body has adopted mandatory quotas to address the lack of women in senior posts.

The use of gender quotas would satisfy one of the original conditions demanded by the Micheline’s Three Conditions campaign. Since then, Micheline has said that this improvement must be implemented fully for all academic and non-academic university staff. The cascade system of gender quotas was first suggested by Dr Sheehy Skeffington as a fair solution to one of three conditions that she wanted met by NUI Galway. Dr Sheehy Skeffington won a landmark gender discrimination case against the university in 2014. Because of the resulting bad publicity, NUI Galway President Jim Browne set up the task force and claimed that Dr Sheehy Skeffington was on it. She had never agreed to this and sent him her three conditions, which she has since gone on to campaign for. The first condition was justice for the five women academics who, like herself, were denied promotions seven years ago.

“The President keeps insisting he doesn’t have the power to promote the five women without them winning a court case. But that’s not true,” Dr Sheehy Skeffington said. “The President and the Governing Body have the power to promote whomever they wish. When he’s challenged on this, he then insists that promoting the five will lead to lots of additional claims for promotion. That’s nonsense. Most of the seven men shortlisted and not promoted in 2009 have since been promoted, unlike the five women who are still college lecturers. Even if management were forced to also promote the only two of those men who are still college lecturers, it will still cost the university less than the large salary they are paying the new Vice President for Equality and Diversity!”

The third condition set forth by the campaign requires the university to correct the imbalance between men and women in the subsequent 2013/14 round of promotions, in which Micheline and the five women were again not promoted.

A few days ago, SIPTU issued its own statement regarding the Gender Equality Task Force’s report and its recommendations. SIPTU Equality Committee at NUI Galway spokesperson Maggie Ronayne acknowledged the report’s positive elements, but cited ‘fundamental flaws’.

“The task force and its report are not independent and its focus is too narrow,” Ms Ronayne said, adding that the report “does not tackle the real problems faced by the majority of those working and studying at the university, a majority of whom are women.

“The report fails to address, in any meaningful way, the discrimination and unfair treatment faced by administrative, general operative and technical staff, academics and others on precarious contracts or casually employed, researchers or students. The few recommendations regarding some of these staff or students are token gestures or misguided proposals which may make matters worse.”

The campaign agrees with SIPTU on this point. The improvements just announced for women have to apply to ALL the women working in the university. The full report, which we have been told was amended on Friday after a subcommittee meeting where this criticism was raised, is expected to be published by NUI Galway in a week’s time. We wait to see if these changes are good enough.

Meanwhile, our main response is still “Promote the Five”!

 

 

Connacht Tribune: NUIG ‘appears to have lost its way’

SUMMARY: A Connacht Tribune opinion piece in today’s (April 15th) Bradley Bytes says it all with this kicker: ‘Michael D is correct: what is a university if not a bastion of free speech, where diverse views are? It doesn’t sound like NUIG. Something stinks up there at present. Gender equality problems. Rows between management and unions. Private consultancies filling staff vacancies. A senior staff member turning whistle-blower. Court cases galore. Staff on rolling contracts. It all amounts to a climate of fear. And now a comical controversy over cartoons. It’s enough to make a president blush.’

The full column follows below:

Michael D blushing over NUIG’s own ‘Father Ted cinema protest’

A youthful Michael D Higgins debating at a Lit&Deb evening in UCG: he would be embarrassed by the university's attempts to curb free speech recently by removing an exhibition over-night.
A youthful Michael D Higgins debating at a Lit&Deb evening in UCG: he would be embarrassed by the university’s attempts to curb free speech recently by removing an exhibition over-night.
Bradley Bytes – A  sort of political column by Dara Bradley

Do you get the feeling Michael D Higgins is embarrassed by his Alma Mater? Obviously, the President is too polite – and restricted by his high office – to say so.

But Michael D was a revolutionary, who, at the very least, would be concerned with recent goings-on at NUI Galway.

He’s proud of it too, no doubt, but he must be a teeny weeny bit mortified.

The university appears to have lost its way since the former Labour Party TD was a lecturer in politics up there. Or maybe it just appears that it has lost its way.

But perception is important. That’s why the latest controversy over the Secret Cartoon exhibition is so baffling.

In a nutshell this is what happened: an exhibition of 14 cartoons depicting a fictional university president and gender equality issues was hung by the Students’ Union in the Arts Millennium building last Thursday.

They had permission from the Buildings Office. But it was taken down, overnight, by university authorities, who didn’t tell the organisers.

Though fictional, they bear a striking resemblance to the predicament of NUIG President, Dr Jim Browne, and the gender equality storm on campus.

The university would deny they attempted to repress the exhibit and freedom of speech. But there was a whiff of censorship to the whole affair. Removing the exhibit in the ‘dead of the night’ – and damaging one of the pieces in the process – was heavy-handed. And it was unnecessary.

Not unlike the Father Ted cinema protest – where Dougal and Ted hold placards ‘down with this sort of thing’ and ‘careful now’ – interest in the exhibition was piqued by the opposition to it.

The SU president, Phelim Kelly, planned to exhibit the cartoons regardless of the university putting stumbling blocks in his way, and re-arranged for them to be displayed in the SU offices.

College authorities injected oxygen into a non-story.

PR isn’t necessarily NUIG’s strong suit, which is strange given the institution is so sensitive to adverse publicity.

But at least they wised-up to their mistake, and performed a U-turn at the 11th hour, just before the launch on Monday.

Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington, who won an Equality Tribunal case against NUIG, did the honours at the opening.

What has all this got to do with the President, says you?

Well as both Kelly and Sheehy Skeffington have alluded to, on the same day the cartoons were taken down, Michael D gave a speech at NUIG to open the European Universities Association’s annual conference.

In his 4,500-words speech he said universities were facing an ‘intellectual crisis’. They shouldn’t just be about producing graduates for the labour market.

“Fostering the capacity to dissent” is a core function of universities, he said. They should develop “independent thinkers” to “challenge the status quo”. Universities must “allow (students) to develop a critical turn of mind”.

Michael D is correct: what is a university if not a bastion of free speech, where diverse views are?

It doesn’t sound like NUIG. Something stinks up there at present. Gender equality problems. Rows between management and unions. Private consultancies filling staff vacancies. A senior staff member turning whistle-blower. Court cases galore. Staff on rolling contracts. It all amounts to a climate of fear. And now a comical controversy over cartoons.

It’s enough to make a president blush.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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You can also access the column by clicking on this link:

Irish Times: Former academic welcomes gender quota proposal for NUI Galway

(SUMMARY: Today’s Irish Times (April 15th) reports Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington’s response to yesterday’s news that the gender equality task force recommends gender quotas. The article is published in full below.)

Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington won landmark discrimination case against university

Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington. Photograph: Joe O’ShaughnessyDr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

An academic who was at the centre of a major gender discrimination battle with NUI Galway has welcomed proposals to introduce mandatory gender quotas for academic staff at the university.

A final draft of the college’s gender equality taskforce report says such a move would significantly increase the number of female academics in senior posts.

The move could also have significant implications for other colleges and public sector employers where women are under-represented

The taskforce was set up in 2015 after Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington – granddaughter of suffragette Hanna Sheehy Skeffington – won a landmark Equality Tribunal case against the university.

‘Appalling situation’

Dr Skeffington said: “It is great that NUI Galway have recognised they have to address the appalling situation for women in the university by implementing mandatory quotas for promotion rounds and the suggested way to do it is excellent.”

However, she said the policy should be applied to all staff and not just academics. And quotas needed to be applied from outside the university.

“If they do not do this, then I fear it will result in more outside appointments, mostly men, and so less promotions for internal staff,” she said. The college must address “injustices of the past” by promoting five women at the college who are taking legal actions over not being promoted. “I know they deserve promotion as much as I did because they were shortlisted along with me and through my Equality Tribunal case I saw the application forms for all the shortlisted candidates,” she said.

NUI Galway has also welcomed the draft report and said a final report would be issued to the college’s governing authority next month.

In the meantime, the university said the draft report – issued by the chair of the taskforce, Prof Jane Grimson – is being circulated to the wider college community.

“The draft final report contains 23 evidence-based recommendations which are aimed at promoting gender equality at NUI Galway,” the university said. “In welcoming the draft report, the university reiterates its commitment to addressing gender equality across the university with the highest priority and looks forward to the completion of the final report.”

In June 2015, as part of its preliminary report, the taskforce made a series of recommendations to NUI Galway’s governing authority aimed at addressing gender equality at a systematic level. The university said all four recommendations had been implemented.

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You can also access the story by clicking on the following link:

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/education/former-academic-welcomes-gender-quota-proposal-for-nui-galway-1.2611190

Secret Cartoonist exhibit taken down hours after President Higgins speaks at NUIG to say colleges must foster ‘capacity to dissent’

Exhibit note

 Note on otherwise blank wall in Arts Millennium building where the exhibit was states: SECRET CARTOONIST EXHIBITION TO SUPPORT WOMEN LECTURERS WAS TAKEN DOWN DURING THE NIGHT BY NUIG SECURITY!! IT WAS SPONSORED BY STUDENT UNION.

How’s this for irony?

The Secret Cartoonist exhibition taking a satirical look at NUI Galway’s management of gender discrimination issues at the university was taken down in the middle of the night – only hours after President Michael D. Higgins, speaking at a conference at NUIG, said it is critical for universities to encourage opposing opinions.

A Gender Equality campaign supporter says the exhibition was still in place Thursday night at 10:30, but was gone by 5 am when the cleaners arrived. Security admit they dismantled the exhibit on orders from ‘management’ but will not say who ordered them to take it down. They also admit that the exhibit was damaged, acknowledging that glass covering one of the cartoons was broken.

NUIG Students Union President Phelim Kelly is furious and fighting for the exhibit to go back up, insisting that the SU has the right to display it. He added that he has a mandate from 26 student societies for the SU to support the Gender Equality campaign.

Meanwhile, nearby in the Bailey Allen Hall where the annual conference of the European Universities Association was being held Thursday, President Higgins said universities are facing an ‘intellectual crisis’ over their role in society.

Universities, he said, must be allowed to flourish as spaces with the intellectual courage to reject dominant ideologies and encourage the seeking of truth from fact, The Irish Times reported.

‘Fostering the capacity to dissent is another core function of the university’, President Higgins said. ‘Third-level scholarship has always had, and must retain, a crucial role in creating a society in which the critical exploration of alternatives to any prevailing hegemony is encouraged.’

Needless to say, the universities still need to do their homework.

The full text of The Irish Times article on the president’s speech is available by clicking on this link: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/education/president-higgins-universities-facing-intellectual-crisis-1.2602607