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Students of Lancaster University have created a large artwork on the Sports Centre Hill to protest against unethical investments made by the university.
The artwork depicts the word ‘DIVEST’ below a large cross, and measures 105 square metres. Pictures of the artwork were uploaded to a website titled ‘Fossil Free Lancaster’ on Monday Week 9.
According to the website, “Lancaster University currently invests £251,678 in the fossil fuel industry; £33,238 in the arms trade; and £28,873 in tobacco companies”.
A Freedom of Information request lodged by Emily Winter in October 2014 revealed that the University did invest in BAE Systems, and LancasterEthicalInvestment.tumblr.com – a blog that analyses the University’s investments – explained their opposition to investment in this company: “Even in regard to their not so “clean” record the very nature of their work is not something we support and suggest divestment in them, as the nature of their work supports the arms industry.
“The company controls a tremendous amount of the world’s defence industry, and especially dominates the UK market.”
A petition calling on the University to divest from unethical investments has reached 1,220 signatures in around one year. The petition, hosted on the Fossil Free UK website, calls on the university to be more transparent with their investments, have a student position on the investment committee, and invest more into renewable energy.
The petition argues: “UK universities support the fossil fuel industry directly through investments in companies such as BP and Shell. Lancaster University’s involvement within this industry is incompatible with their image as a green university, actively promoting renewable energy and sustainability.”
“We believe an increased awareness and lobbying by students will encourage the university management to adopt an ethical investment policy.”
LUSU responded to the ‘DIVEST’ artwork, saying: “This was an example of independent student-led activism and we support our members’ right to express their views on matters like this.”