Instead of investing £3.1m in arms trade, what else could the University of Glasgow spend their money on?
That will be the question circling around many students’ heads now that a recent investigation, carried out by The Glasgow Guardian, revealed the extent of the University of Glasgow’s arms trade funding. The answer is, obviously, a lot more back in the good old days when they didn’t cost an arm and a leg. Snipes at the GUU’s pricing aside, let’s take a look at some of the better, healthier and indeed more socially responsible ways the University could be spending their money:
Overhauling the counselling and support services
The long waiting times for counselling and other forms of emotional support for students are well documented, with the waitlist sometimes stretching to as long as six months before students are able to access help (yes, it seems it’s entirely possible to sign up to counselling in semester one and not get an appointment until semester two). Whilst the University of Glasgow’s record isn’t quite as appalling as that of other universities (spare a thought for our comrades down in Bristol), we wouldn’t even need half the arms trade investment money to effectively solve the problem once and for all. In fact, if we used the whole £3.1m, we’d be golden. We’d each have our own personal counsellor. There’d be those hardworking and loyal stress relief dogs in every single tutorial room, poised and waiting for the hour of need. The unions would finally develop a coherent and user-friendly sexual harassment support service (hopefully). Tupac would probably return on the sheer strength of the students’ well-being. It’d be a self-care utopia.
Making the College of Arts properly accessible
This one may have passed by our friends in the sciences, but the College of Arts, specifically the Music, English and Scottish Literature, History of Art, History, and Celtic Studies buildings, are all in a lovely row of Victorian terraced houses near the QMU. These houses all have stairs, and no lifts, which makes them inaccessible for anyone who is either a wheelchair user or has difficulty with said stairs. And, since these subjects hold many small-group tutorials in their department buildings, this means that disabled students are effectively unable to study arts courses, making the University complicit in de facto ableist discrimination (illegal, although we should be less surprised since arms trading is apparently perfectly OK). Yes, the buildings on University Gardens are old and pretty, and I’m not saying we have to go and live in unaesthetic brutalist blocks (I actually really appreciate the effort they’ve made to put the arts students in the buildings that look nice); but pretty buildings have to be accessible too. £3.1m would definitely put a dent in the amount it would take to either get University Gardens retrofitted with lifts or construct a new accessible College of Arts building, and finally heal the divide caused by all those unnecessary walls.
Given the stage of the current climate crisis, as well as the fact that the University is largely attended by the generation who will experience the worst effects of a heating planet, this really should be a priority, and it probably wouldn’t take all the money, either. 100% renewable energy. Carbon neutral sources for everything on campus. An end to people putting disposable coffee cups in the recycling bins and not the general waste bin (an end to disposable coffee cups!) All food and drink at the unions would be plastic-free. There would be proper food recycling. All petrol and diesel vehicles would be torched with redemptive electric fire if they came within three miles of campus. All the concrete, everywhere, would be torn up and replaced with trees. In fact, forget just going green: with £3.1m to play with, the University of Glasgow could become a small carbon-neutral nation. With the world’s only fully biodegradable army.
For a university that claims to care about the emotional well-being of its students, little seems to be done for those still grieving the loss of Viper (close sources reveal that requests for bereavement counselling were denied). Gone but not forgotten, reminding many of us of nights we have either erased through alcohol or devoutly wish that we had, the empty shell of this beloved building is practically begging to be permanently resurrected (preferably using University funding, and ideally University-subsidised alcohol). If there is room for more than one Rajous, there is room for more than one Hive, and £3.1m would be enough to make this fleeting daydream into a hard and fast reality.