Essex Careers Centre has cancelled BAE’s attendance of its Careers Fair following student protest.
After finding out that BAE Systems were planning to attend the 29 October fair, students quickly mobilised to stop them. They wrote a statement expressing their opposition to BAE’s attendance and sent it to every department at the university. They contacted the other organisations attending the fair, asking them to express their opposition and to threaten to pull out if BAE attended. A protest was also planned for the day of the fair.
Essex Careers Centre then posted on its Facebook account that BAE Systems would not be attending the fair due to ‘health and safety concerns’.
Jake Woodier, age 20, who was involved in the campaign, said:
“The University of Essex takes great pride in the Human Rights Centre which is internationally recognised. Therefore to invite BAE systems, a company that profits out of death and destruction in international armed conflict under the guise of supplying defence systems, is a morally repugnant decision. Essex students will not tolerate arms dealers on campus.”
BAE Systems is the world’s second largest arms company, with 95% of its total sales being military. The company sells arms across the world and has strong ties to the repressive Saudi Arabian regime. BAE recently sold 200 Tactica armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia. These vehicles were used by Saudi troops helping to suppress pro-democracy protests in Bahrain in March 2011 (Jane’s Defence Weekly, 23.3.2011). See CAAT website for more detail.
Universities are an important recruitment ground for companies looking for new student employees. However, many students are concerned about the role that universities play in promoting companies involved in the arms trade. They feel that by inviting arms companies onto campuses, universities are sending the message that these are respectable companies, despite the devastation caused by their products.
The autumn recruitment season is traditionally met with a wave of student protests. This term has already seen demonstrations in Sheffield, Edinburgh, Warwick, UCL, Queen Mary, Royal Holloway and more.
Beth Smith, CAAT’s Universities Network Coordinator, said:
“Students across the UK are refusing to let arms companies visit their universities unchallenged. Successes like the one at Essex show just what students can achieve through coordinated campaigning. The movement to kick arms companies off campus is growing and we look forward to more successes like this one.”
|To find out more about arms company recruitment and how to campaign against it: