The two societies tried to crowd out the careers fair and challenged employers about their ‘unethical practices’.
Glasgow University Arms Divestment Coalition (GUADC) and Extinction Rebellion Glasgow University (XRGU) teamed up to “disrupt” the Science and Engineering Careers Fair.
Between 19 to 21 October, the Engineering and Technology Careers Fair was held by the University of Glasgow. Extinction Rebellion Glasgow University (XRGU) and Glasgow University Arms Divestment Coalition (GUADC) ran an event to “Disrupt UofG Careers Day”, which involved creating fake accounts to book up slots hosted by some of the companies with the intention of not turning up. In some cases, using their real accounts, the students enquired about the role of the company’s (Barclays, NatWest, BAE systems) contribution in the arms trade or the climate crisis. This caused substantial disruptions to the event as a whole, with some students being removed from the call and receiving follow-up emails outlining the code of conduct that should be followed during Career Service events.
Previously, the University has been criticised for arms trade investment of £3.1m and backing companies heavily involved in the fossil fuel industry. Glasgow University invests £390,000 in BAE systems which is the world’s fourth biggest arms producer and whose fighter jets are directly linked to Saudi Arabian attacks on Yemen. Similarly, the University also has over £1.4m invested with Barclays, despite Barclays providing £85bn in funding to fossil fuel companies between 2016 and 2018. Both of these companies were present at the Careers Fair and this was the driving force behind the events that took place last week.
At one of last year’s Careers Fairs, XRGU also protested by setting up a stall pretending to be an employer but instead informed fellow students on the unethical practices of the companies present around them.
A XRGU representative told The Glasgow Guardian, “We don’t think companies like Barclays and BAE Systems that still invest heavily in fossil fuels and the arms trade, and contribute to the climate crisis and human rights abuses have any place on our campus. The University Careers department is directly supporting them by encouraging students to consider becoming employees of these organisations after university. At the same time, the university has huge financial links with these companies, investing millions of pounds in them while also relying on them as research partners.”
Commenting on the protest, a University spokesperson told The Glasgow Guardian: “Our Careers Fairs are a vital part of how we create pathways from study into employment. We think it’s important that, as part of the experience of studying at Glasgow, students have the opportunity to engage with a wide range of businesses and organisations.
“The University has a clear commitment to tackling climate change. We were the first university in Scotland to publicly declare a climate emergency, in 2017, and we are committed to reducing carbon emissions to net zero by 2030. To inform this process, we recently undertook a thorough consultation with students and staff which received over 1,300 responses and has informed our new Draft Climate Change Strategy.”