student life

Warwick students protest BAE Systems

Warwick student activists protested BAE Systems at a careers fair, last week, Halimah Manan reports.

Students at the University of Warwick handed out flyers to protest BAE Systems, at a careers fair held 15 October. The global arms trader, whose customers include Saudi Arabia, was recruiting at one of the University’s autumn careers fairs.

Activists from the Warwick For Free Education, People & Planet and Friends of Palestine societies protested their recruitment. They handed out leaflets providing information about BAE’s “corruption” and what their arms have been used for.


Sims, a member of Warwick For Free Education and People & Planet, said: “We felt we had to disrupt BAE Systems’ presence on our campus because they are a company who are complicit in so much violence and oppression around the world.”

Their only purpose, he alleged, “is to develop and sell technologies that kill people.”

BAE Systems vehicles were “used by Saudi troops” to help “suppress pro-democracy protests in Bahrain, in March 2011”, according to the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT).

“Warwick should not be hosting such a company or allowing them to pay to have access to graduates, which are a vital resource for the maintenance of BAE,” Sims said.

Joe Jenner, second year and volunteer at Warwick Hub, echoed this: “Universities need to be careful when filling the guest list for their careers events.” Jenner added that universities should look at companies more critically and ask exactly what they do.

Jenner also added that companies such as BAE Systems “that cause significant damage” should expect to face protests and resistance on university campuses.

Peter Dunn, a spokesperson for the University, said Warwick engages impartially with any employer who “is operating legally.”

Did it work?

Even so, “the action was effective,” Sims says, who explained that many people “who might otherwise have been swayed by the glossy brochures and smooth-talking recruiters walked away from the stall when they heard about what the organisation really does.”

When asked about the effect on recruitment, a spokesperson for BAE told Kettle it was “difficult to speculate on,” as recruitment takes place over three or four months.

Though the University’s policy on handling protests at careers fairs has not changed, the student activists were allowed in and out and were not forcibly removed. This marks a change from the reaction to People & Planet activists who protested Shells and Rolls Royce, last year.

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