Controversy is brewing in the UCD School of Medicine as reports emerge that first years will be required to take a module taught by Professor Dolores Cahill, despite the lecturers controversial comments regarding the ongoing COVID pandemic.
Cahill is the Module Coordinator and lecturer of MDSA10210 Science Medicine and Society, however, she has recently come under fire for her scepticism towards government regulations concerning the pandemic and the severity of the coronavirus itself.
Cahill, who also chairs the Irish Freedom Party, was recently asked to resign from a European Union scientific committee due to her views concerning the effectiveness of mask-wearing and social distancing, among other claims. She has also spoken out against government guidelines, calling them “a fear-mongering propaganda tool to try and take away rights from people and to make them more sick [sic] and to force vaccinations on us.”
Besides being asked to resign from the EU committee, a number of scientific institutions which Cahill had been associated with, including the UCD School of Medicine, have distanced themselves from her because of her public statements. Furthermore, a number of UCD Medicine students signed an open letter of complaint against her last June.
Despite this, many first-year students at UCD are still required to take her class in “Science, Medicine and Society”. While UCD has previously acknowledged the concerns of students and the public, the administration has said there is little they can do to address the matter, due to the University’s strict guidelines on academic freedom.
When asked for comment on the matter, UCDSU President Conor Anderson said: “Med students are not happy at the prospect of being taught by Dolores Cahill, particularly not on the subject of “Science and Society,” which is what she is slated to teach. A number of medical students wrote a letter debunking Cahill’s claims and raising issue with her continued position in the University over the summer, but they were ignored.
“There is likely going to continue to be backlash and resistance from the med students as the year goes on, and the SU will be supporting those students however we can.”
The College Tribune also reached out to a number of first-year medical students for their thoughts on the situation. One student said, “I found it shocking that a medical professor would have such strong beliefs that go against the advice we’ve been given by the WHO and many other healthcare professionals. I get the sense that if the university believed there was any merit behind her statements, we wouldn’t all be watching lectures from home!”
Another had a different perspective, saying, “I wouldn’t agree with her opinion at all. However, I think by having a lecture with her gives people the opportunity to challenge her ideas. I don’t think her opinions hugely undermine medical knowledge. Likewise, you can look at the other 99.9% of medics who uphold mask-wearing. However, if there were more like her it would be damaging.”
Jack McGee – Reporter