The University is facing increased pressure this week over its relationship with BAE Systems.
An online petition and a Better University idea are both demanding all ties with the controversial weapons manufacturer are cut.
Following a Leeds Student investigation into the involvement of arms dealers with the University, a petition on Change.org calls for BAE to be banned from Careers fairs, and for the University to refuse any further funding or investment from the company.
The Better University idea calls for a total ban on BAE’s presence on campus. The idea is now going to referendum.
Bryher Bloor, one of the students who organised the petition, told this paper that the response had been “outstanding.”
The second year Geography student added; “The message coming through is loud and clear – that a huge percentage of the student population want BAE out. We refuse to be complicit in BAE’s crimes against humanity through the University’s endorsement.”
The University responded, “[Careers] fairs give our students the opportunity to find out everything of particular interest to them directly from the companies, which can include a company’s ethical policy or human rights record.
“The University does, of course, have an ethics policy governing the funding of its research activities.”
The Leeds Student investigation, carried out last November, found that Leeds had received nearly £100,000 from BAE since 2009.
Much of that money was put towards research projects, a University spokesman confirmed.
BAE has faced repeated criticism from charities for its allegedly “indiscriminate” sale of weapons to oppressive regimes across the world. Among its customers are the governments of Saudi Arabia and Belarus. In 2010, the company was sentenced by the United States Department of Justice to pay a record $400 million fine for charges of bribery and corruption.
Words: Max Bruges