Students on campuses throughout the UK are preparing for a Day of Action against the arms trade on 11 February 2009. The Universities' Day of Action has been organised by students and student groups with support from Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT).
The run-up to the Day of Action has seen some of the most significant student activism in recent years, with demonstrations at 19 campuses. Actions have included occupations, sit-ins, disruption of recruitment events and demands that universities break links with the arms industry. Each campus campaign has focused on issues with the most immediate relevance to their own situation.
Demands made by student activists include:
Clean investments - Universities and other educational institutions should not invest funds in arms companies. Institutions with funds in such companies should disinvest and put in place ethical investment guidelines to ensure that no further investments are made in these companies.
End military sector funding - There are numerous links between university research departments, especially engineering, science and IT departments, and the military sector, including commissioning research projects, financial support and student bursaries. In practice, this often amounts to publicly funded research supporting private profits. These links were described in detail in Study War No More, a publication by CAAT and the Fellowship of Reconciliation.
Stop campus recruitment events by arms companies - Arms companies have used university career services to organise career information and recruitment events, sometimes in an underhand way, for example, some companies may not mention that they are engaged in military activities. In turn, many career services do not investigate the background of the companies that they promote to students.
Support for student victims of war - Universities should offer scholarships and other financial support to students from Gaza and other war-torn areas, and donate textbooks and computers to education institutions in these areas.
Barnaby Pace was an organiser of the Warwick University sit-in which ran for nine days from 21 January. He says:
“Our action opened the eyes of many students to the university's links with the arms trade. including the £2 million it received researching military projects, promoting arms companies at career events and investing university funds in arms companies. We want the Day of Action to highlight all these issues.”
For further information or an interview please contact CAAT's Media Coordinator, Kaye Stearman on 020 7281 0297 or mobile 07990 673 232 or email media(at)caat·org·uk.
1. Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) works for the reduction and ultimate abolition of the international arms trade.
2. Details of the events and locations are available on request.
3. The most recent information on universities' arms investments can be found on CAAT's website here.
4. Information on the influence of arms companies on university research can be found at Study War No More. This is based on the report Study War No More, published in December 2007by CAAT and the Fellowship of Reconciliation.
6. Spokespeople for CAAT, and students involved in the campaign, are available for interview.