On Monday 17th October, the University of Nottingham (UoN) held an engineering careers fair where the student activist group called ‘Demilitarise UoN’ staged a protest. Their motive was to draw attention to the university’s partnership with companies who are involved in the arms trade. Impact’s Lottie Murray reports.
Students who attended the event on behalf of the group were seen to be holding signs which read things such as “UoN has blood on their hands” while wearing fake blood-stained garments. The protest also involved a number of these students laying down on the ground to demonstrate that these partnerships are resulting in death. Demilitarise UoN took to Instagram to outline the change which they are demanding to see. The language which is being used is reflection of the group’s desperation for these “unethical ties to be cut.”
The six demands revealed on their social media were to “end the partnerships with BAE and Rolls Royce”, “transition to ethical and sustainable alternative, which improve life, not destroy it”, “create no new partnerships with companies that profit from war”, “stop inviting arms dealers to Careers Fairs”, “publish details of financial relationships with external companies” and finally to “widen the ethical investment policy to include third party investments and pensions.”
“students deserve ethical and sustainable careers”
Impact spoke with River Butterworth, UoN’s very own Education Officer, who stated that “students deserve ethical and sustainable careers, but instead the university continues to prioritise arms manufacturers for profit.” One of the main issues that students have is that they feel that they are not being heard by the university. “Student Union representatives have repeatedly made the university aware of its complicity in the arms trade, but as of yet any recognition of a will to end these partnerships on their behalf have been met with no action” says River Butterworth.
Although, Demilitarise UoN has concerns with several different companies, the most notable one is Rolls-Royce Plc. Rolls-Royce were one of the attendees at the engineering careers event and so the group targeted their stall to make people aware of their thoughts on the company’s inner workings. It has been revealed that the university has accepted £12,146,049 from Rolls-Royce in investments. This has been identified by the group as a huge problem because Rolls-Royce is in fact the 17th largest arms manufacturer in the world. One protester who attended the event has said that “the university has been maintain links with companies that profit from war for too long. They know they’re in the wrong here and we need to hold them accountable to their own ethics guidelines.”
Demilitarise UoN have made it clear that they will continue to be persistent with their protesting until the university are willing to be compliant and re-evaluate their decision to carry on their association with these multination companies.
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