VIDEO: Student activists dragged out of Octagon following anti-arms protests

 

Students protesting against arms companies were physically dragged from the Octagon centre by security staff on two occasions today when staging demonstrations at the Engineering and Technology careers fair today.

Some of the protestors sustained cuts and bruises as a result of the physical action taken against them.

The protestors, representing the Fund Education Not War campaign, entered the venue in separate small groups before rushing together at the sound of a whistle blown at approximately 11:40am this morning.

12 students pretended to lay dead on the floor while wearing t-shirts covered in fake blood and linking arms while three stood up holding a banner reading ‘Professional murderers off our campus’.

Fund Education Not War released a statement earlier saying they were protesting against the companies Augusta Westland, Airbus, BAE Systems, Rolls Royce, Thales and Ultra Electronics.

The group said in their statement: “the University prides itself on being a values-led organisation; however, its continued liaison with arms companies responsible for the murder of innocents around the world throws this claim into serious disrepute.”

 

 

Protestors are dragged out of the Octagon by security
Photo: Camille Brouard
Protestors are dragged out of the Octagon by security

The protestors staged their demonstrations at the back of the Octagon, near stands occupied by the Royal Navy, Thales, BAE Systems, GCHQ and Rolls Royce.

On the first occasion, two protestors read out a list of children they say were killed as a result of weapons produced by the companies, who are all involved in arms production.

BAE Systems’s stand was nearly knocked over by one of the protestors as they were dragged away. Another protestor managed to wedge himself in the doorway as security attempted to drag him outside the building.

A security staff member initially asked the group to leave on both occasions but they continued, resulting in security physically dragging them out of the Octagon via the fire exits. Approximately five to six security staff were involved in the physical action taken on both occasions.

On at least the second occasion the University’s security operations manager asked staff to use minimum force.

Demonstrators shouted at the staff for what they saw was excessive force. While staff tried to drag him out of the fire exit, the operations manager asked one student to “stop kicking me in the leg”, before asking staff afterwards to try and identify the student involved. Forge Press cannot as of yet confirm what occured in this incident.

The operations manager later said the students’ protests went “beyond a normal protest”, and said he would be reporting the student who allegedly kicked him.

 

 

 

 

 

In a statement to Forge Press, Students’ Union officers said they “wholeheartedly support students’ right to protest on campus and are concerned with the way in which the protest was broken up, which appeared to use disproportionate force.”

The statement read: “Protesters at the Engineering & Technology Careers Fair on the 5th November 2013 were regrettably removed with force by the University Security team after staging a protest specifically against a number of exhibitors who are linked to the Arms Trade. “We are looking into issues surrounding this and have expressed our concerns to University management.”

The SU’s Fund Education, Not War involves opposing the University’s dealings with arms companies and investments in companies complicit in the arms trade. The policy was passed by referendum in October 2012.

A spokesperson for the University of Sheffield said: “The University fully supports the democratic process and right of students to express their views in public within the law.

“A small number of protesters became disruptive and intimidating to students and employees of companies visiting the University. They were also blocking fire exits. These individuals were asked on several occasions to move by University security staff. When they refused to do so they were escorted out of the building.

“The University has several research partnerships with major household names and blue chip companies.  These industrial partnerships bring major benefit to students, resulting from these companies sharing their expertise through placements, industrial lectures and case studies.

“The University is committed to providing students with the best possible graduate employment opportunities. The recruitment fairs are an important way for students to meet with a wide variety of top graduate employers, allowing all students to meet potential future employers and make their own informed decisions about their future.”

Students have expressed mixed opinions on Twitter towards the protests, with some praising the Fund Education Not War campaign for their actions and others complaining about their opportunity to speak to graduate employers being disrupted.

 

 

Background: the companies targeted at the careers fair

Two of the companies targeted by Fund Education Not War for their role in arms production were Thales and Ultra Electronics.

Thales is the world’s 11th largest arms producer. Military products, including missiles, UAVs (drones) and armoured vehicles, accounted for 52 per cent of the company’s 2011 sales.

The company supplies defence and military equipment to countries all around the world, including those with major human rights concerns, such as Saudi Arabia.

In 2010 Thales was the general integrator for all air traffic control equipment for Egypt’s newly built tower and runway, inaugurated by President Hosni Mubarak.

Thales is also a major manufacturer of Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (TUAVs), also known as drones, which provide intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance.

Thales advertises TUAVs as having a variety of uses including paramilitary, counter-terrorism and the ‘monitoring of civil unrest’.

In August 2005 Thales signed a €1bn prime contract to provide the Watchkeeper TUAV System to the UK Armed Forces. It is now believed the drones will be used in homeland security.

Thales has also been accused, on numerous occasions, of bribing officials. The World Bank’s Integrity Unit has blacklisted Thales from any of its projects because of its history of large-scale bribery.

Ultra Electronics supply control systems to aircrafts, including weaponised drone vehicles.

The company has been “the supplier of the controls that fly the Predator [drone] since its inception,” describing their product as a “gaming style controller.”

The General Atomics MQ-1 Predator is a UAV that was initially designed for surveillance but has since been modified to carry and fire munitions, typically two AGM-114 Hellfire missiles.

The aircrafthas been involved in combat over Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bosnia, Serbia, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia.

The University of Edinburgh recently severed ties with Ultra Electronics, divesting all their shares in the company.

Offensive uses of the Predator fall under classified information, meaning U.S. military officials have declined to publicly comment on their combative use.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has published a list of children who died in drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, which are not conflict zones.

Human Rights Watch reported that six U.S. drone strikes in Yemen killed 82 people, including at least 57 civilians.

It is estimated that 286 to 890 civilians have been killed by drone strikes in Pakistan, including 168 to 197 children.

In October this year human rights charity Amnesty International said that CIA drone strikes in Pakistan were responsible for unlawful killings, some of which may constitute war crimes.

The Obama administration states that the attacks do not violate UN law and that the method is “precise and effective.”

78 Responses to “VIDEO: Student activists dragged out of Octagon following anti-arms protests”

  1. James Noble

    They can’t exactly complain about sustained “injuries”. What do you expect when you trespass and lie and the ground? Most students are actually interested in potential employment from the companies at the fair.

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    • Graduate teaching assistant

      They weren’t trespassing, it’s their university, which they are well within their rights to protest about. And no, you shouldn’t ‘expect’ to be injured for lying on the ground taking non-violent action.

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      • James Noble

        If they protested outside the Octagon, then fair enough. Whilst inside the Octagon, they were making it difficult for students who willingly went to the fair to learn about their job prospects. Just because you attend a University and have rights to make protests, it does not give you the right to do whatever you like hindering the activities of other students. They have rights too.

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        • Anna

          Tbh, I was there looking for jobs/internships and it didn’t stop me from looking. If anything it reminded me and others there that our industry does have its dangers and consequences and that we don’t live in a bubble.

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        • bob

          If you look at the video you will see that the few rights to protest that we have left are not particularly impressive. As far as I can see security meat heads are employed to violently drag peaceful protesters out of the Octagon. Moreover, how can you complain about students’ rights to talk to employers when those very employers are part of a corrupt arms industry which maims and kills thousands each year?

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      • Barry

        They wouldn’t have been ‘injured’ had they complied with the security staff’s requests. Obviously the aim of this protest was to be dragged out in order to gain publicity rather than to rationally put forward an argument.

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        • Archie

          I agree with Barry. These people just aren’t being considerate to anyone. They are only thinking about themselves. They’re smiling as they’re being pulled away. They love it.

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          • callum

            Good one Archie, obviously these students are taking time out of their day to protest the killing of innocent people for purely selfish reasons.

  2. Chris

    So what happens when there’s a fire and the security get blamed because a load of people are blocking the fire escape? I wish for one minute these people would just stop and think that maybe the security are trying to do their job. maybe if you showed the whole event unfolding from the start, people would be able to see the security asking the people to move and being told to f off. Everything isn’t always security’s fault. In all honesty, if you think a cut on your elbow is a serious injury you are in need of a stark reality check. I worked security on the octagon centre for years and i Still have scars where people bit me, punched me kneed me, tried to break things over me all because I did my job and took the his while they were trying to do the same to other people. Security isn’t an easy job, you lot need to grow up and get a perspective

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    • callum

      Nah mate, you need to get some perspective. Who are these security guards protecting? Its clearly not students, given their violent methods of evicting them. Instead security are protecting university management who pay themselves £100,000s per year and arms dealers who vulture off of publicly subsidized students.

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  3. Archie

    Yeah these students were extremely selfish. It ruined a careers fair for me which until they arrived had a bubbling atmosphere. It happened last year as well. It makes Sheffield University look like a hive for anarchists. These people never suggest a better solution to what they’re protesting against either. This was a destructive protest, not a constructive one.

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    • Troy

      These people would love to be called anarchists… The fact of the matter is they’re just bored humanities students.

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    • Tim

      Yeah a bubbling atmosphere of students happy to ignore everything in pursuit of better lives for themselves. No solutions? How about ‘Don’t invite companies that make arms onto campus’ – which is what they are clearly saying

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      • Flo

        How’s that a solution? Get rid of arms companies and have no defense to threats from the rest of the world? What do you suggest we do to protect ourselves?

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      • Emily

        So, arms companies shouldn’t exist? So what if Rolls Royce builds the engine for a fighter jet. That doesn’t make them an evil company. Do you suggest that endorsement of such engineering companies should be forbidden by the university? If that is the sole goal of this protest (other than an obvious fun day out making a scene), then what is achieved exactly?

        Besides, the protest should still have been conducted in a manor that did not hinder the activities of students who want a decent job.

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        • Eva

          If it did not hinder the activites of students then how would they succeed in their mission of raising awareness? I presume that this was their goal; the more awareness, the more chance of boycott against these companies and subsequent retraction from arms trade activity. They seem to have met their goal, considering the amount we’re all talking about their protest, we’re all definitely aware. The ethical implications of endorsing a company that are involved with arms trade are far more concerning than the ethical implications of disturbing some well off students. Yes it was inconvenient but the truth is inconvenient, and we should be encouraging those who are willing to highlight the truth that Rolls Royce and others’ endorsement of arms trade is leading to arbitrary violence and death.
          Flo, is the answer to submit to the violence in the world and engage in it ourselves, or should we not tackle such violence? The protesters may not stop all violence of the world in this one action, but it’s one step in the right direction as opposed to passive submission.

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      • Keith

        Tim I bet you would reverse your views in a second if it was your careers fair and companies with ‘immoral’ aspects were offering you a job.

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    • Bob

      “These people never suggest a better solution to what they’re protesting against either”.

      Sorry, but this is patently false, if not absurd; they are protesting against University of Sheffield’s support for arms companies. The immediate ‘solution’ is to stop supporting these companies, the long-term macro-’solution’ is for the UK to stop granting export licenses to prospective sales to human rights abusers.

      Also, it is surely the absolute antithesis of ‘selfish’ to campaign against abject human suffering which is not local, is under-reported, if reported at all, and from which you don’t derive any tangible benefit, hardly befits the being derided as ‘selfish’. Conversely, complaining about such activities because they interrupted a careers fair, where *your* ability to consume advice about a career complicit in systematic violence, is manifestly selfish.

      How was the protest ‘destructive’ — what did it destroy?

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        • BobLouis

          Come on… the stand wobbled and a cardboard cut-out fell out. In fact, the video passes the stand two minutes later and the cardboard cut-out is seen re-inserted; hardly ‘destruction’.

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      • Archie

        I accept your apology. You’ve not given any evidence/statistics between the companies and deaths they’re responsible for. Just accusations. It is not self-fish to go to a careers fair to talk about careers. It is self-fish to go to a careers fair and disrupt it for the benefit of your wishes.The bubbling atmosphere.was destroyed,

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        • Jason

          The bubbling atmosphere of arms dealers leaching on students? Have just a fraction of critical thought. These companies pay thousands of pounds to the university for their privileged access to students with publicly subsidized degrees – the university essentially pimps its students to private business. And selfishness? arn’t you the one complaining about having your job prospects inconvenienced by people trying to stop the killing of innocent people?

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  4. Emily

    These students are ridiculous. They are clearly loving the attention they are getting. It’s all a game for them.

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    • Bob

      What exactly are you basing this on? Why are you dismissing people campaigning against a companies which sustain some of the most repressive regimes in the world? Why is it ‘ridiculous’ to not want to bring an end arbitrary mass violence?

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      • James

        I’m guessing Bob stands for bunch of BS! If you actually read newspapers and were even a bit more cultured than you suppose to be, you’d KNOW that the UK has anti-export laws to those regimes, at least the companies involved in the protest surely do. Also, I’m guessing that you’re typing the crap comment in the safety of your home, not having to worry about your personal security. Why? Because of companies like RR and BAE that keep you safe at night. Also, Bob, did you know that ALL the C-130 Hercules aircraft that so many times you see supporting humanitarian missions are powered by RR? Or did you know, Bob, that the new A400 aircraft is built to same purpose, i.e., provide humanitarian relief? And finally, did you know that AgustaWestland provides air ambulances and police helicopters to more than 100 COUNTRIES in the world?

        Think about that the next time you talk about arms deals. And, for the love of God, use your time at the excellent university that is Sheffield to actually learn something useful and become a better person!

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        • BobLouis

          Firstly, the presupposition and condescension of your post is neither helpful nor welcome. Secondly, you misconstrue the subject by conflating ‘arms company’ and ‘arms company which sells to, and thereby sustains, human rights abusers’ — that is, national security (or the military capacity for humanitarian action) is possible without exporting arms to the lowliest regimes in the world. Thirdly, if you – contrary to your posturing – gave an iota of time to researching UK arms export licenses, you would see them for what they are: a rubber stamp of ethical legitimacy which has failed to preclude the most uncontroversially unethical sales (i.e. to Saudi Arabia, to Mubarek’s Egypt, and indeed, to anyone except political enemies). In fact, the UK government – through UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) – actively promotes such sales.

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  5. Flo

    Lauren Archer your reporting seems very biased towards the protesters. In fact your claim of injuries sustained is a grotesque use of hyperbole.

    Reply
  6. Dave

    There were companies there today who make money from the deaths of innocent people. Companies which are utterly evil, and trying to present themselves as something they’re not.

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    • Flo

      The arms companies were presenting themselves as arms companies. Did you talk to them? I did. They weren’t hiding and concealing themselves. They don’t kill people. Regimes and governments do perhaps. If someone murders someone with a knife, it doesn’t make the manufacturer of the knife utterly evil.

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      • Tom

        yeah but knives can be used for many different things, unmanned drones can only really be used for one purpose:killing people. Of course some people may argue that drones are defending us / defeating our ‘enemies’, but really the drones are just murdering whole villages when there is only one or two potential suspects in the village.

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        • James

          Did you know that only 1% of the missions carried out by drones are done with bombs or missiles on board? Did you also know that out of that 1%, only 20% are actually fired rounds? Did you also know that drones (powered by RR and supported by BAE) were used in Japan to help find the tsunami victims? Of course you didn’t, based on the (lack of) quality of your comment.

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          • BobLouis

            Did you know that 95% of BAE Systems’ sales are military in nature?

            Also, there is a qualitative moral difference between selling a knife in a retail shop and selling arms to known human rights abusers, where the known use of such is internal repression. Indeed, the day-to-day knife parallel of the latter would be something to the effect of ‘selling a knife to a known – to you and everyone else – serial killer, which cognizance of the obvious consequences’.

          • Tom

            Sorry I guess my statement was very vague. I was talking about military drones not drones in general.

            Military drones are very dangerous as they result in many unnecessary civilian (often children) deaths. Even in non conflict zones, such as in Yemen and Pakistan many children have been killed by them.

            Thales is a manufacturer of military drones so i don’t really see how you can argue that Thales should be at the careers fair. (although to be fair you didn’t argue that specifically)

            Also I’m not saying all components of RR are BAEs’ businesses are bad, however they do supply equipment to some of the world’s most oppressive and anti democratic regimes, so until they’ve ended these parts of their businesses they really shouldn’t be welcomed at our university.

            I don’t think I’m very eloquent at saying these points, so I urge you to read Fund Education Not War’s statement where it sums it up a lot better than I ever could.

  7. Emily

    That’s absurd. They weren’t misrepresenting themselves at all. Elderly people die as a result from energy prices being too high due to energy companies. You can draw many links between a company’s decisions and people dying. Arms companies do not kill people. The users of their equipment may use them responsibly or not. It is them who are to blame for resulting deaths.

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    • Andy

      It seems for you that causation does not exist. So when the world condemns Russia for arming the Syrian regime, do you truly believe that its not irresponsible? and any responsibility for the human rights abuses and massacres lies only with the Syrian army? If so, it is in fact your view that is absurd.

      Completely agree with Bob, the selfish, close minded, and usually nasty people, will paint these protesters as “hippies” “selfish” “arrogant” “attention seekers” etc to avoid the fact that in wanting to just go and work for an arms company you will be contributing to an industry that brings a huge amount of unnecessary human suffering.
      Save me the moral outrage at you privileged students, being interrupted in a careers fair, and start thinking about the greed, selfishness and repugnance of your views on the arms trade.
      If your family was country was plagued by constant conflict, repression and violence I think you might get out of your privileged little bubble and think differently about what the arms trade represents.

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    • Chris

      The whole thing’s absurd, it happens literally every year, before these lot it was the socialist workers party, I remember once they tried to get us all fired while they were protesting for workers rights when we asked them to move their stall half a meter to the left so it wasn’t blocking a door. They care about workers rights but they have no qualms about repeatedly abusing security. sorry digression lol

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      • Jason

        If security manhandles students, its difficult to stand in solidarity with them

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        • AF

          And if students refuse to leave after being repeatedly and calmly asked to do so after being allowed to make their disruptive protest for 10 minutes, then it’s difficult to not “manhandle” them.

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  8. Chris

    and also, Lauren Archer, you want to get your facts straight, those aren’t university security staff, they’re contracted

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    • Lauren Archer Lauren Archer

      The University statement about the event refers to them as University employees.

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      • Chris

        Fair enough, they aren’t though, the university security staff have a no touch policy, they aren’t allowed to touch any students. They’re different from the staff who normally work those events who are employed by the union, these are neither, they’ve been contracted in to work the event. I do think your reporting is biased however, I’ve been on the receiving end of this kind of thing a load of times, made to look like a complete **** when in fact, if the video showed, or even mentioned the half hour build up to the event normally which involves consistent abuse of security staff and refusal to comply with the simplest requests, maybe security wouldn’t always look so bad. I’m not saying all of Forge Press do this, I was on quite good terms with a few of you at the end of my career there, and appeared in a couple of your videos. There does however seem to be an underlying attitude among some of you that all security staff are ignorant meatheads who just want to ruin everyones lives. I never once saw you report on the times when any of us stayed behind after work into the early hours of the morning, walking people who were too drunk to stand up home, calling ambulances for people who had slipped over and hurt themselves while trying to physically attack us, or giving people CPR after they’ve taken so many drugs they’d passed out.

        Where was your report on the time a 25 stone man accidentally drank a drink full of rohipnol (god knows what effect it would have had on its intended victim) and went into a three day coma? If it hadn’t been for security staffs quick and effective response in dismantling the toilet cubicle he was trapped in (due to his sheer size, the door couldn’t be opened) manually lifting him out of the toilet and into a first aid room and keeping him breathing till the ambulance arrived, he could very well have died (a letter from the man thanking us later confirmed this)

        Seems I’m ranting but I think these kind of reports are really a big part of the negative image security often get.

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        • AF

          Completely agree. Anyone who’s ever worked with security knows that the vast majority do a tough, thankless but almost always fair job and get pretty much nothing but abuse from drunken idiots for it.

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  9. Chris

    How else did you expect them to be dealt with? The students who do this sort of thing are the same ones that protest for British forces to step in and give financial and armed support, who funnily enough are involved with these companies. Would be nice for forge to actually come to events and see what a good job security do instead of only ever printing negatives. Go stand outside the atrium on a Wednesday or Saturday night and you will have disgraceful behaviour from students all night.
    You will also see what difficult job security do. Your supposed to be the future of our press yet you act just like what we already have. ForgePress takes the line like everyone else! Unfactual and biased.

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  10. JustObserving

    Three cheers for the Security staff! I left Sheffield Uni ages ago, and this made my night!

    Reply
  11. Tom

    The force from the security seems to be getting a lot of coverage when that isn’t the main issue.

    The university shouldn’t be dealing with these terrible companies. Thales for instance continued to supply the Mubarak regime in Egypt with lethal weapons even as the world watched them being used on peaceful protesters in Tahrir Square.

    Also the University continued dealings with such companies directly contravenes the Sheffield Student’s Union ‘Fund Education Not War’ policy, voted for by referendum (by students) in October 2012. So Senior Management is completely ignoring students, how ,especially with the rise in tuition fees, can the University completely do the opposite to what students democratically voted for.

    Also claims from students that such protests are hurting career prospects should consider that..
    The arms industry accounts for around 3% of jobs for engineering and science graduates but the amount of arms company fairs at the show was definitely a lot higher than 3% of the total numbers of stalls/companies at the fair. The arms trade is a declining industry, whereas green technologies are on the rise.

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  12. Sara Moon

    As a recent graduate and ex SU officer I am heartened to see Sheffield students still standing up and speaking out against the powers that are involved in so much destruction on this planet. And more importantly, upholding Union policy that was democratically voted in. I only hope the University will start listening, ending its relationships with arms manufacturers and find instead partners that might help us find a way out/through the ecological catastrophe we are facing.

    Here is the official statement from ‘Fund Education Not War’ which addresses a few concerns raised.

    “On Tuesday 5th November the Fund Education, Not War campaign and a number of other groups on campus will be holding a protest at the Engineering Careers Fair. We are protesting the presence of a variety of companies, all of whom are directly involved in the production and sale of arms. These companies are: Augusta Westland, manufacturers of military helicopters; Airbus, whose military business unit produces planes for military transport; BAE Systems, responsible for “developing some of the most technologically advanced defence, security and aerospace systems on earth”, and selling them to some of the most repressive and anti-democratic regimes in the world; Rolls-Royce, producers of military jet engines, with ‘50,000 engines in service with 500 airlines, 2,400 corporate and utility operators and more than 100 armed forces’; and Thales, and Ultra Electronics, both of whom manufacture essential components for military drones.

    Our primary focus is on Thales and Ultra Electronics, due to their current complicity in the Obama regime’s extrajudicial murder of thousands of civilians in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and more broadly in the Middle East, using unmanned drones. Added to this, Thales continued to supply the Mubarak regime with lethal weapons even as world watched them being turned on peaceful protesters in Tahrir Square. Fund Education, Not War protested their presence at Careers Fairs in March yet the University has seen fit to invite them back to the Octagon again this academic year.

    In October 2012, the Students’ Union passed a referendum to implement a policy which states unilateral opposition to the involvement of the arms trade in the Union and University. The policy mandates the Students’ Union to resolve to declare opposition to the University’s dealings with all arms companies, and lobby the University to end all dealings them, including in careers fairs and in advertising. Full policy: http://www.shef.ac.uk/union/you-run-us/policies/current/index.php#educationnotwar

    Over 50% of Thales’ total sales come from selling defence and military equipment around the world, including countries that committed major human rights concerns, such as Saudi Arabia. Thales is a major manufacturer of drones: unmanned aerial reconnaissance vehicles whose use is becoming increasingly common. These drones have assisted strikes outside conflict areas and have helped caus many civilian casualties. Ultimate Electronics are proud to announce that they have been “the supplier of the controls that fly the Predator [drone] since its inception.” As such they are equally complicit in the mass murder waged by the USA, without any remit, over the last few years in the name of ‘the war on terror’. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism recently published a list of children who have been murdered by drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, two countries which are not conflict zones and as such should not be subject to attack by these machines – not only has this happened, but the fatalities of innocent children have resulted. The full list can be found here, and includes names of entire families who were murdered by drones: http://droneswatch.org/2013/01/20/list-of-children-killed-by-drone-strikes-in-pakistan-and-yemen/ The University of Edinburgh have set a precedent recently in divesting all shares in Ultimate Electronics – we commend this action and urge our university to do the same.

    The University prides itself on being a values-led organisation; however, its continued liaison with arms companies responsible for the murder of innocents around the world throws this claim into serious disrepute. In light of continued refusal by the Careers Service to stop inviting arms companies to its careers fairs, Fund Education Not War will be holding a peaceful protest highlighting the grim reality that stands behind the friendly front of the Thales stall at the fair, naming each recorded child victim of a drone attack. This will emphasise the ruined lives and devastation that the machines which this company builds, have caused.

    Fund Education Not War calls on the University to follow the lead of others such as UCL and St Andrews and end its links with the arms trade. We call for the promotion of ethical alternatives to jobs with arms companies and want to dispel the myth that they are a good source of graduate recruitment and “needed” at our careers fairs: the arms industry accounts for fewer than 3% of jobs taken by engineering and science graduates, and whilst the defence market worldwide is worth a trillion dollars annually, jobs in green industry and the environment are worth at least eight times as much. The arms trade is a declining industry in Britain with many jobs increasingly sourced outside of the country; the University should move with the times and listen to the opinions of students and act on policies that are democratically implemented by the Students’ Union.

    Our University should also be responsible within the wider community for the companies it chooses to liase with, and this means not inviting arms companies to its careers fairs. By the time you have finished reading this statement, at least one person will have been killed as a result of armed conflict around the world”.

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    • David J

      Excellent use of copy and paste! What an unsurprising lack of original thought, clearly that year as an SU officer (paid for by us, you’re welcome) didn’t go to waste.

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    • ObserveReport

      Wow Sara, you have really outdone yourself here! A lot of moderate students are fed up with the minority of overly politicised students who hijack the Students’ Union for their own ends. A lot of students feel as though there is no point in voting nowadays, as the side that is seen by some as being “Socialist” or “Left” is terribly over-represented in Union politics, and the more moderate amongst us (myself included) are never heard, or fobbed off. So much for democracy. On another note about the Union being hijacked for people’s own agenda, I remember the Sun debacle, which epitomises this “Secret Handshake” and “Behind Closed Doors” mentality that has sprung up between the students who control the Union. There is no transparency any more, and many new students are getting increasingly frustrated with the Union. A lot of things that I hear around the Union are “They never listen” or “£9000 for this?”.
      May I just add that the so-called “Arms Companies” actually drive a lot of technology forward, and are responsible for the comfortable life you have now. Thales and Ultra Electronics have other areas which they participate in, such as energy and transport, but I guess you’re against them too, as they don’t line up with your principles – am I hitting the nail on the head here?

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  13. John

    These protesters are right to assume most people make no connection between careers on offer at the Octagon and the destruction some companies represented facilitate across the globe. Awareness is always good enabling people to make an informed decision on whether it is important to them. Perhaps the protest should have been more narrowly focussed with a specific line of argument against one company. People will start to ask crucial questions regarding others on the back of this and not be turned off by the ridicule these protesters attract by making seemingly wild accusations against a host of well known British Engineering/Tech firms.

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  14. Eileen

    Well done guys, you deserve a medal for raising awareness around these issues. Comments made on this page show the attitude that prevails among the privileged students who have not even got the ability to open their eyes and hearts to the suffering of fellow human beings who are injured and killed by these arms. All they can think about is how their day was spoilt… Maybe they might have a different attitude if it was their family or friends being killed by these devices. I am appalled at their heartlessness and narrow minds.

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  15. Max

    I have lost count on the number of ridiculous, (coincidentally anti-demonstration), comments from people showing their basic ignorance of what the actual, legal definition of trespass is. Shows the value of a £9k p/a University education eh?

    Before commenting on Forge as if they are the lead bullshitter for the Daily Mail – people would be well advised to have a bloody clue on what they’re talking about.

    Reply
  16. David Johnson

    Pfft you think a minor protest in a university owned building is going to stop this? Any idea how much investment The University of Sheffield have with these companies? Check out the university owned AMRC & Nuclear AMRC.

    Reply
  17. Chris

    So they’re protesting against the companies who make the weapons to keep our companies safe; fair enough.

    What about the students who are trying to get into that sector? What about the young engineers reaching the end of their degrees who are trying to get jobs in the area? Do they have to make it so hard for them just to speak to an employer?

    Maybe they should protest against the University for teaching Engineering subjects that lead to this careers…. Idiots. Whatever next

    Reply
  18. Richie

    This is ridiculous, once again a small group of highly politicized students have decided that they must act as the moral compass for the rest of the uni. Thanks for deciding what it right and wrong, I am totally incapable of deciding that for myself. What a pointless ‘protest’, if they really wanted to make a difference protest the policy makers in government, but they wouldn’t get their nice video of them sustaining a cut then.

    What are they hoping to achieve? Raise awareness that arms companies make arms, well that’s groundbreaking news. Or maybe stop Sheffield uni being associated with them, well I’m sure that that would bring the world wide trade to a shuddering halt. And then everyone would put their differences aside and go sit in drum circles.

    The real purpose is so that they can go to the pub in the evening together reassured that everyone is equal but they are more equal than others.

    (just a suggestion but next time take a lesson from Bronson, Strip down and cover yourselves in butter, thatll make removing you more difficult plus you’ll be nice and slippy so should avoid getting cut).

    Reply
  19. Sam

    Aw diddums, look at their “Injuries”. Pathetic.

    None of those students protesting had anything to do with the engineering faculty. They certainly didn’t know anything about the companies they were protesting aside from what they could glean from the propaganda they were handing out.

    The students who attempted to deny those who had attended the engineering fair the opportunity to work for defense companies should be ashamed of themselves.

    Vile, vile people spewing anti-forces and anti-veteran hate. No wonder not one of them was wearing a poppy. Stupid, stupid people who don’t understand that a precision guided bomb from a drone saves lives in the long run when used to eliminate the threat of terror.

    Their blind ignorance was matched only by their selfishness in ignoring the code of conduct set up to provide everyone at the careers fair with a good experience.. I’m ashamed to attend the same university as these protesters.

    Reply
  20. Gee

    Regardless of your stance on the (im)morality of these companies and their presence at the arms fair, the disproportionate presence, year in year out, of companies involved partly or entirely in ‘defence’ is absurd. There were around 8 companies directly involved in the production and sale of arms at this Careers Fair, along with the RAF, Royal Navy and the Army – alongside Halliburton, who are complicit in the waging of the Iraq War and Caterpillar (crucial in the continued human rights abuses committed by Israel) . On top of that, there were huge numbers of oil and gas companies present – and those are just off the top of my head. Even if your only priority is a fair representation of the range of jobs available in the engineering sector, the fair was wildly skewed in favour of military, or fossil fuel companies. This, despite the fact that by far the fastest-growing sub–sector in the engineering job market is in ‘green’ or renewable energy companies. Therefore, the University is actively doing its engineering students a disservice by having such a biased jobs fair. This is of course because management is interested only in profit, and these (in my opinion, fucking horrible) companies are the ones who will pay through the nose to appear at these Careers Fairs: “The defense market worldwide is worth a trillion dollars annually. The energy and environmental market is worth at least eight times this amount. The former is set to contract as governments address the economic realities of the coming decade; the latter is set to expand exponentially, especially in the renewables arena.” (Source: Jane’s Defense Weekly conference paper, May 2011 http://home.janes.com/events/conferences/e2ds2011/)

    As a place to start for finding out about exactly what these companies do and stand for: https://www.facebook.com/notes/fund-education-not-war/resources/423556121069445

    Unfortunately some of our research files can’t be uploaded easily on to facebook, but for more information regarding the myths surrounding arms companies and engineers’ job prospects, send Fund Education Not War a message and we’ll be happy to send you them.

    P.S We weren’t, and aren’t, all ‘bored humanities students’ – we have a number of engineers involved who are deeply pissed off at how they are being represented as only interested in unethical employment. So there.

    Reply
    • Sam

      Gee, you’re repeating verbatim FENW propaganda. You’re not an engineer are you. Let me put you right.

      First off, one stand each for each of the forces is completely proportionate. They’re consistently ranked as the best employers to work for, they do good work, and they’re employers that are very popular among engineering students.

      Haliburton and Caterpillar are primarily civilian contractors, They build things. I honestly don’t understand why you have a problem with diggers and tractors. They’re both market leaders, no discrepancy having them there.

      If you’d done any engineering you’d know that green energy jobs… don’t really exist, though Siemens, who are a really big wind turbine manufacturer were there. Most of your hated oil and gas companies do offshore wind turbines too, the technology required (jack up boats, deep sea drills) is the same. Your figures are skewed because green energy is such a small sector, so a tiny increase in number of jobs is proportionally big. Going from 0.05% of the market to 0.1% is a 100% increase, Going from 50% to 55% is only a 10% increase. Green energy jobs aren’t available, even if they were worth taking – which they aren’t. Fortunately we had companies like Babcock and Rolls Royce there, who do civil nuclear power, which is practical in a way renewables arent. Unfortunately your propaganda is opposed to them too.

      The university isn’t doing students a disservice by inviting the companies that they are most interested in. Stop telling engineering students what they should think. You are ignorant in our field of expertise, we are the experts, so listen. Your research is flawed, your statistics are phony, your dossiers biased. Educate yourselves.

      Reply
  21. Benjamin

    Yet again a minority have their childish little escapades broadcast across the (evidently biased) university media system.

    You, me, friend of a friend and uncle Duncan have every right to make your views known, regardless of stand point. Where I take issue is the “blockade” of company stands preventing interested young people from pursuing their careers which have had years of school and thousands of pounds invested into – this is unjustifiable. What right do YOU have to stop a committed individual showing an interest in their future and how they may be able to make a contribution in the engineering world (Which is the world where things get done)?

    Time and time again companies such as BAE Systems, Thales, Rolls Royce etc are treated as purely arms companies. I suggest the rabble “injured” vest greater interest into the huge contributions these companies make in the civil sector – I imagine the mumbling misinterpreted engineers spoken of would have no issue working on a Rolls Royce Trent engine or vehicle if given the oppurtunity. These companies give you a choice of whether you want to work in the defence sector or not – you’re not forced down a route you don’t want to pursue (having spent some time at aforementioned companies – I know this to be fact). Disrupting these companies for their comparably small bits of work in the defence sector further disrupts the huge array and variety of opportunities they provide in the civil sector.

    Furthermore, perhaps you should follow more of an “educational” route to the petty “war” on the floor you seem to lead every year with little/no effect.

    As for the “injuries” sustained – get a grip with your over ridiculous over exaggeration.

    Reply
    • Tom

      Yes you can choose not to work in the defence sector for these companies, however if you work for them then the profits from your work will be reinvested and be used to support all sectors of the business . So yes even though they’re not purely arms companies, the fact that part of their business is an arms company means they shouldn’t be at the careers fair. Even if you think that arms companies should be at the careers fair, in 2012 the student union by a democratic referendum introduced the Fund Education not war policy where it resolved to ‘ end all dealings with arms companies, including at careers fairs and in advertising,’ so it shows that senior management are going completely against what students have voted for.

      http://www.shef.ac.uk/union/you-run-us/policies/current/index.php#educationnotwar

      Reply
      • Sam

        less that 1000 students voted in that referendum. it’s ludicrous to suggest that the FENW policy is the will of the students when there were more than 10 times as many abstentions as votes. Science, technology and engineering students – the only students actually affected by this policy, were probably to busy working to vote – not having the benefit of a 6-hour a week schedule and a reading week..

        Reply
      • Daniel E

        Lets get one thing straight. Just because it passed in referendum within the SU doesn’t mean the University has to do squat about it. This affects the Faculty of Engineering almost exclusively, If you were to breakdown the votes within the faculty you’d find a very different outcome.

        The faculty of engineering turns over £50 million pounds a year from research and your suggestion is just to start saying no to companies wanting research done at our institution. Where else is the faculty going to get this funding from? I can’t imagine humanities turns over much from research?

        Until the governments stop asking for new jets, guns and bombs the companies will not stop working on them. Most of the technology you take for granted was probably initially developed on military funding. Progress made in military technology often makes its way into the civil sector.

        Reply
  22. Phil

    Not really sure what the protesters expected to happen at the fair. Did they really think people were just going to carry on and ignore them whilst they embarrass the students there and the university. Feel free to protest, but do it in a way that doesn’t affect students’ opportunities.

    Reply
  23. john rogers

    I hope the Student Union will stand up for these protestors, no matter what they were protesting about: the brutal way the security carried out the action of removing them is unacceptable, some physical injury, and not least allowing the young man trousers to be pulled off(no its not satire) and not facilitating some decency by pulling them back up. I am a former Hallam NUS Sabbatical Officer and we would have required and demanded action to be taken against the security by the university authorities, Our security in the day was firm not fair, not bully boys like these.

    Reply
  24. john rogers

    Ah, I meant “firm but fair” and I concur with one the security guys posting, not all security are bad, but the contractors always seem worse, less rooted in the community?

    Reply
  25. Stapleking

    Hats off to the security personnel. They removed the protesters in a calm and composed manner. What do these people expect if they lie in the middle of a careers fair making a scene? They are just attention-seeking no-marks who thrive on the chaos they make.

    On another point, it is nice to see that you can always count on Miriam Dobson for a well-balanced and argued point…

    Reply
  26. Helen

    I think the security acted perfectly reasonably; you can still see in the video that they were asking them to move before attempting physical action and the protester’s injuries appear to be mainly caused by the amount of flailing that they are doing. However this -should- be academic, as this situation should not have been able to happen at all. One group of students shouldn’t have the right to disrupt the careers of another.

    With this in mind the “Our Career, Our Choice” campaign are trying to ensure that this situation cannot happen again, at: https://www.facebook.com/OurCareerOurChoice.

    Reply
  27. Alex

    I am appalled by the callous shortsightedness of many of the comments here. How can so many of my peers be so in favour of clearly immoral companies? Companies that enforce regimes elsewhere that will supply the drones for the one we are yet to inhabit.

    Reply

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