Students protested against the University’s choice of research funding outside Vanbrugh College today and urged it to introduce new ethical funding legislation.
This follows the recent investigation by Nouse which revealed that the University has accepted over £4 million in research grants from arms companies such as BAE Systems.
Alexandra Peck, one of the campaign coordinators and a third-year politics and philosophy student, commented: “We’re hoping that this will be the beginning of an ongoing campaign to get the University to be more transparent.”
“[The University should] take ethics into consideration when they are looking at the research they’re conducting rather than just using money which is always readily available from arms manufacturers.”
The demonstration itself featured a talk from the MP for York Central, Hugh Bayley, as well as a performance from a local protest poet. Many of the demonstrators carried drums on a protest march which led them around the University lake.
The organisers of the protest also took signatures for a petition for the University to introduce a policy on ethical research funding.
Cat Wayland, YUSU co-Women’s Officer, stated that: “We have an ethical investment policy now, but it doesn’t go far enough.”
She added that “We don’t really think that it’s appropriate that arms companies should be presenting the University with research funding in order that they carry out research that essentially leads to the loss of many civilian lives.”
Chair of York Amnesty International, Mariel Stringer-Fehlow, said that if the University stops accepting research money from arms companies, “of course there will be a replacement source of funding, the problem is that it’s harder to find.
“It is possible to find but the onus should be on them not go for the easy and the lazy option which is unfortunately unethical.”
Bayley addressed the demonstrators in a speech which praised student activism and detailed some of the history of the international arms trade.
Afterwards he gave a statement, saying that: “The University took an important step forward a couple of years ago when it agreed that there should be an ethical base for its investment policy and I think students are right to say that it’s not just about investment; and the University should look at its pension fund and research funding [as well].”