A group of students at the University of Sheffield have occupied the Diamond (a prominent engineering building) to protest the University’s relationship with arms companies.
The University claims to have divested from arms companies, calling investment in them irresponsible. Despite this, they have failed to cut all ties with the arms trade by still receiving research funding from arms companies and welcoming them at their careers fairs.
Between 2013 and 2021, the University of Sheffield received close to £47 million from arms companies, with Rolls Royce providing 72% of this alone. Rolls Royce is the second largest arms manufacturer in Britain, after BAE systems which the University also receives funds from. Rolls Royce’s fighter jets have been used by Israel during numerous attacks on Palestinians in the Gaza strip. Whilst BAE Systems supply Saudi Arabia with weapons directly used to commit ongoing war crimes targeting Yemeni civilians. Without the continual supply of weapons from these companies, these wars would not be able to continue.
One of the student occupiers said: “The University of Sheffield is complicit in war crimes. Every year the Uni accepts millions of pounds from companies that supply weapons used to kill civilians. By accepting money from these murder factories the University is endorsing an industry that is directly causing the deaths of millions of people.”
They say that they have been forced to take direct action because student groups, such as People & Planet, Fund Education Not War and the Students’ Union, have been campaigning tirelessly for years and have been ignored.
The students demand that the University cancel all contracts with arms companies, refusing to take any more funding from them, and stop bringing them into the careers fairs.
They currently have no plans to leave and say they will stay as long as is necessary.