University responds To SUSU Complaint over Presence of Arms Companies at Careers Fair

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After discussions with the Wessex Scene in recent weeks, SUSU Environmental and Ethical Officer Aaron Bali wrote to the University to complain on behalf of SUSU about the presence of Arms Companies at an upcoming Careers Fair being hosted by careers Destinations on the 20th of October. The link to the fair can be found here: http://www.southampton.ac.uk/careers/news/fairs/scieng.html 

The IT, Science and Engineering Fair is due to include representatives from Arms Companies such as BAE Systems and as reported on the Wessex Scene online, a picket of the fair looks likely.

A copy of the letter sent to the University and their response can be found here: http://blogs.susu.org/sabbs/2010/10/13/university-responds-to-susu-complaint-over-presence-of-arms-companies-at-careers-fair/#content

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Discussion2 Comments

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    When so-called “arms” companies provide a significant amount of the graduate jobs for Southampton University Science and Engineering students, this kind of anti-weapons worrying seems a little misplaced.

    When the WS found out that the university held shares in BAe systems last year there was an overwhelming call to sell those shares in protest at the arms trading that they do. I’ll repeat what I said to the WS then – it’s far better to own the shares and exert a shareholders influence than to be protesting without any power.

    Not to mention the fact that companies like BAe are not just “arms” companies but research and development establishments, aviation engineering, and clean energy producers. The world is not black and white, and unfortunately some of the best scientific advances have come from weapons manufacturers.

    Pete
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    Provision of jobs doesn’t really hold much weight as a moral argument. For example, the taliban provide much needed employment oppurtunities to out of work afghan farmers. But you wouldn’t say this means they are good for Afghanistan.
    The University had no interest in exerting an influence in BAE, and to get anything like a controlling stake they would have needed to invest much more money than they’ll ever have avaliable. It was just about those shares being profitable at the time, regardless of what the money invested was used for.
    Around 95% of BAE Systems business is military. As far as I know they have no ties to making clean energy products. And while ‘arms’ dealers almost always have subsidary lines in other areas, they are usually small parts of the company used to promote a clean image. Other companies do all these things without also producing bombs.
    I’m not sure what scientific advances come from weapons manufacturers. Generally, they divert research away from useful areas to perfect more and more advanced methods of killing people.

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