A motion to ban controversial manufacturer BAE Systems from campus has been passed, following a narrow referendum vote announced on Friday.
The motion demands that the company is forbidden from attending careers fairs on campus, and from providing any future funding to University research projects. The motion – passed with 826 in favour and 804 against – also states that the University must sell all shares held in the company.
Alongside the BAE motion, students also voted in favour of lobbying the University to ban Starbucks from campus, by a majority of more than 300.
The referendum was announced last month, after motions submitted to the Better University Forum failed to reach a consensus.
Ban supporter Leo Garbutt praised the vote: “I’m delighted that students have chosen to boycott BAE. This sends a clear signal that students of Leeds University will not tolerate a company that facilitates war or allows corrupt regimes to oppress their people.”
BAE has faced repeated criticism from the Campaign Against Arms Trade and other charities, for its sales of weapons to oppressive regimes across the world. 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. After the United States, the government of Great Britain is BAE’s largest customer.
When contacted by Leeds Student regarding their ban, the company stated that: “BAE Systems believes that all interested students should have an opportunity to find out more about graduate opportunities and international careers with our Company.”
“BAE Systems has the most stringent anti-corruption and compliance standards across business generally.”
Other motions passed included the formation of a ‘Better Landlord’ survey, the establishment of a second-hand bookshop in the Union, and rules to allow the collection of parcels in halls by designated individuals.
8,402 votes were cast in total.
words: Max Bruges