Students from Bristol University Amnesty International and People & Planet societies have proposed and defended a motion at their Students’ Union AGM in favour of ethical investment. The Union’s Vice-President will now lobby the University to commission an independent ethical audit of current investments, divest from arms companies and to adopt an ethical investment policy based on independent ethical audit.
The full text of the motion adopted follows:
This Union notes:
1.That British universities hold over forty million shares in arms companies. This university has 69,250 shares in Smith-Group plc and Rolls-Royce plc, comprising approximately 1.17% of the university’s endowment fund. Both are major arms exporters, that fuel world conflict, for example;
i)Rolls Royce engines power Hawk-jets that are currently been sold to some of the worlds biggest human rights abusers including Zimbabwe and Colombia;
ii)Smiths Group produce missile trigger systems, and components for the Lochheed Martin F-16, that have both been used by Israel to attack Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.
2. That Bristol University has Fair Trade status but has no policy regarding the ethical-investment of university assets.
3. That socially-responsible investment is growing rapidly and is supported by over 75% of UK adults.
4. That a growing number of universities have successful ethical-investment policies, including Birmingham, East Anglia and several Oxbridge colleges.
5. That the university pensions and assurance scheme currently employs independent advisors to determine investment policy and that there are a wide range of ethical-investment advisors and financial-service providers available.
6. That the University’s investment managers are legally required to seek the best return and that;
i)academic research shows that ethical-investment funds perform as well as, and often better than, unscreened equivalents;
ii)the average ethical fund has grown 74.84%, against 62.23% for index trackers and 54.26% for the FTSE 100, over the last 10 years.
7. That this Union has policy prohibiting the promotion or advertisement of specific corporations including Esso based on ethical assessments, but has no ethical-investment policy.
This Union believes that:
1. This university invests in companies engaging in activities detrimental to society and the environment.
2. As a major public sector investor and Fair Trade institution, this university has a moral responsibility to ensure its investments do not negatively affect society or the environment.
3. The university’s ethical-investment stance is an important element in its reputation among the wider community, current and potential staff, students and stakeholders.
4. That this Union should lead by example.
This Union resolves:
1. To mandate the Student Union Vice-President to lobby the University to:
i) commission an independent ethical audit of its present investments;
ii) disinvest in Rolls Royce plc, Smith Group plc, and any other companies considered by independent specialists to be incompatible with ethical-investment;
iii) adopt an ethical-investment policy that includes a prohibition on investments in the arms industry and is guided by the results of the ethical audit.
2. To mandate the Student Union President to lobby the Joint Unions Committee to support the objectives described in point 1.
3. To lead by example and adopt an ethical-investment policy for this union, ensuring that UBU’s own investment policies remain at least as ethical as those demanded of the University.
4. To mandate the Vice-President to take responsibility for developing this ethical-investment policy in consultation with independent ethical-investment advisors.
Proposed by: Amnesty International and People and Planet