A group of students staged a ‘Die-in’ protest during the careers fair on Wednesday Week 4 in opposition to the University allowing controversial arms manufacturer BAE systems to have a stall at the event. The protest saw the group of Lancaster students simultaneously collapse to the ground around the company’s stall, aiming to symbolise the deaths caused by BAE weaponry.
A similar protest also took place last year, where students, many of which affiliated with Lancaster University Anti-Capitalists, acted in opposition to the weapons manufacturer.
One student who took part in the protest, Vishal Bajpai, told SCAN: “For students to accurately call Lancaster University their home, it must reflect what they believe. I doubt there are very many students who believe in the kind of indiscriminate despair, ruin, and death that BAE Systems’ products produce.
“But if students don’t hear all about that we won’t be able to do anything about it. Our action was aimed at encouraging that discussion, to get people talking. A corporation like BAE Systems has no place on a campus like Lancaster University.”
Green Party Councillor for the University ward, Jack Filmore, also took part in the protest, denouncing the University’s acceptance of the company onto campus. “I think it is ethically unacceptable for a company such as BAE Systems to be allowed onto campus. We wanted to send a clear message that companies with no regard for human life are not welcome here.”
Outside the Great Hall also saw a peaceful protest take place where a group of students held a vigil remembering people who had been killed by the arms trade.
When asked about inviting BAE Systems to the careers fair, the University said: “By engaging with a large number of employers, the University aims to give students the opportunity to make informed choices about their future. It is up to individuals to choose the type of organisation they want to work for.”
BAE Systems is one of the world’s largest defence contractors. It has been criticized by human rights activists, particularly CAAT (Campaign Against the Arms Trade) who have organised widespread protests against BAE across British universities.
A spokesperson on behalf of those holding the vigil stated: “BAE has a horrific human rights record, having sold arms to Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Algeria and Qatar. The company produces everything from nuclear submarines to the handcuffs and shackles used at Guantanamo Bay. The fact that they are here, at this respected institution, lends legitimacy to human rights abuse. We are here to say that this is not okay.”