Student campaigners across Britain joined ranks on Wednesday to call on their Directors of Finance to sell arms company shares and adopt ethical investment policies. At around midday, protesters at University College London (UCL) donned suits and plastic guns and posed as arms dealers. This drew the attention of both students and staff to the £800,000 worth of shares UCL holds in Cobham, gaining the activists more petition signatures and support for their on-going campaign. Students at Nottingham University held a mass die-in in protest against the small fortune the university receives in grants for military research. Open University (OU) students campaigned outside the Head Office in Cardiff , protesting against the partnership the OU has entered with arms dealer Raytheon. And at Lancaster University, their stunt was followed by an open-air debate on arms company involvement at universities, with representatives from CAAT facing up to a pro-BAE student group. Other universities that took part on the day included Manchester, Warwick and Newcastle.
The day’s event was organised along with People and Planet. It is hoped it will add momentum to the growing movement amongst UK universities for ethical investment, where arms companies are specifically excluded. Since the campaign was started in 2005, success at an ever increasing number of universities is testimony to this movement. The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), Leeds and St Andrew’s University have all either fully or mostly divested their arms company shares and adopted ethical investment policies that prohibit this.