Credit: Jude Allan

“Not in our name”: Students launch campaign against UofG’s fossil fuel and arms investments

By Athina Bohner

Glasgow Against Arms and Fossil Fuels (GAAF), a student-run divestment campaign, officially launched last Friday with a rally to hand in an open letter of demands to university management.

On Friday 3 February 2023, approximately 100 students gathered at the Main Gate to demand that the University of Glasgow fully divest from arms and fossil fuels. In addition, GAAF is calling for the implementation of an accessible, mandatory, and empowering climate course. Its third demand is for an ethical careers policy, which would ban oil, gas, coal, mining, and arms companies from recruiting through the University.

The Glasgow Guardian spoke to dozens of protesters at the rally, who expressed frustration that their tuition fees are being used to fund climate destruction and arms trade related to conflicts in Palestine and Yemen. Supporters of the campaign argue that such investments are “not in our name” and stand directly in opposition with the ethics and values promoted by UofG. They also denounced the lack of student involvement in the process of investment decision-making, claiming that the institution is “trying to brush [this issue] under the rug”.

According to GAAF, the University of Glasgow currently invests £5.5 million in fossil fuel companies and £6.8 million in arms companies. Based on the group’s research, this figure has recently doubled for the 2022/23 period. While the university has previously agreed to divest from fossil fuels by 2024, campaigners believe that more pressure is needed to ensure this target is fully met, in addition to including arms in its divestment plan.

Numerous protesters commented on Glasgow University’s responsibility to countries in the Global South. Miriam, a third-year UofG student told The Glasgow Guardian: “It’s sickening that we can be in a privileged institution like this, and yet we’re still funding the destruction of countries that have historically experienced so much on our hands.” Another student, Safi, remarked: “We want to be part of an institution that isn’t funding dangerous activity. We’re fighting for the safety of other countries and for the safety of the planet.”

In addition to chanting, GAAF was actively collecting signatures from passersby to support its petition, with one student informing The Glasgow Guardian that it has already received hundreds of signatures. It is noteworthy that the campaign is fully student-organised and non-hierarchical. Third-year student Malcolm feels ashamed by UofG’s investments, but finds “the idea that students themselves are mobilising without any pressure apart from their own will, quite inspiring”.

The rally also expressed support for the ongoing UCU strikes. For instance, third-year politics student Sam criticised the general university management, “because for 2 years, we’ve had lower quality of education, our money being misspent, and it’s just not good enough.” A Sociology tutor who is a member of UCU also addressed the crowd, explicitly condemning the University’s investments in arms manufacturing and aerospace defence companies. 

Following chants of “Glasgow values, Glasgow money”, the crowd marched towards Professors’ Square in order to deliver the letter of demands addressed to principal Anton Muscatteli. The rally ended with a ‘disruptive ceilidh’ in Professors’ Square, as students remarked: “what’s better to unite people than a dance?”

In 2022, Glasgow School of Art (GSA) committed to divesting from fossil fuels following students’ hunger strike, which gained significant public attention. At the rally, a student commented on the wider implications of the GAAF campaign, remarking that “if we get a win at this uni, unis all over the country can do it and we can hold our government to account.”

For more information on GAAF, please visit their Instagram and Facebook pages. To view GAAF’s information leaflet, please click here. To sign GAAF’s petition, please click here.


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[…] Glasgow CND also expressed admiration for the recent campaign carried out by Glasgow Against Arms and Fossil Fuels (GAAF) at the University. After a petition campaign, the […]