This specifically targets BAE Systems, Thales, and QinetiQ, three companies recruiting at the University’s Technology Fair on 14 October.
The petition calls for a platform at all future careers fairs to provide the argument against working for these companies until they cease unethical business practises and trade of armaments with regimes who use them for purposes illegal under International Law. It also calls for all departments within the University to end their research contracts with these companies.
Eran Cohan, one of the members of the campaign, explains the importance of their petition: “It challenges those unethical companies recruiting students and profiting from research conducted by the University without being held to account for their trade relationships with apartheid regimes and human rights abusers.”
The campaign also hopes to convince the University to introduce a compulsory ethics module for all Electronics and Computer Science courses, in order to increase awareness about suppliers in the electronics industry and companies that students may eventually work with or for.
Although initiated by PalSoc, it is now a broad-church campaign following a meeting last Thursday. The campaign is now supported by the BME Network, Socialist Society, Amnesty International and many individual students, with hopes to extend this to more societies and YUSU officers.
There will be a protest outside the Physics department on the day of the Technology Fair, hosted by PalSoc, which has now been sanctioned by the Careers Centre to allow for a balanced view and provide information from both sides. Careers have also agreed to give the society a stall just outside of the fair which will give out information about these three companies.
The controversy over these companies arises from their involvement as arms suppliers. BAE Systems is the third largest arms manufacturer in the world and has faced serious corruption allegations upheld by the High Court. The petition states that the company supplies the Israeli air force with Heads-Up Displays (HUDs) and other systems for their F16 fighter planes.
Thales builds Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, in partnership with Elbit, an Israeli drone manufacturer and QinetiQ is also a supplier of arms and explosives. A UK court has established a link between Thales and Elbit to alleged war crimes in Gaza earlier this year. The petition now has over 170 supporters.
Jacob Webb, one of the Environment and Ethics Officers at the University commented: “The petition has helped shed important light on the dealings the university has with arms companies. It articulates reasonable and achievable demands for change and it would be fantastic if as many people as possible could sign so we can help bring these demands into practice.”
Tess Parker, another Environment and Ethics Officer said: “As Environment and Ethics we are joining the coalition of societies to say that it is not okay for the university to have involvement with arms companies.”