TO UWE STUDENTS: WONDERING WHAT WAS GOING ON ON CAMPUS TODAY?

PLEASE READ OUR BLOG (https://network23.org/uwe-struggles) AND SPREAD INFORMATION ABOUT IT AROUND YOU

WONDERING WHAT WAS GOING ON ON CAMPUS TODAY?

Today, UWE hosted a military business fair inside its conference centre, the ECC. This fair is an event for military and business worlds to meet. It happened on Frenchay campus and we think, first and foremost, that it should be a place of learning. The presence of companies infamously affiliated with, or active within, the arms trade (such as Thales and Raytheon) shows us that this was NOT, as we have been assured, a simple trade fair, but a meeting  between private businesses who are funding military operations all over the world, be it through industrial association or active involvement.

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Student banner at the entrance of UWE’s ECC on 20 Nov: ‘WAR is BUSINESS and RESEARCH’,  from CAAT Blog

This morning, we staged a peaceful protest outside the North and East entrances to Frenchay campus, as well as outside the main entrance to the ECC building to express our anger and disgust at what was, in effect, an event endorsing the expansion and technologies of the defense industry on a university campus.One protester was arrested and one of our friends, a UWE student, suffered a bleeding injury after being hit by a conference participant. UWE security and police prioritised the military business fair over our safety and freedom of expression. Many of us were recorded on video by special intelligence-gathering police and some were even harassed. Is this freedom of expression? Both UWE and UWESU were informed about attacks on our bodies, but they apparently had more important business to attend. This is the UWE student experience!

We are really shocked by what happened today and we need to get some rest. Beyond these scandalous attacks and threats, we shouldn’t also forget the issues that we attempted to air today. We denounce UWE’s irresponsible strategy of furthering a business agenda at the detriment of courses, students, staff, the quality of education, critically important research, and sustainability. With the hosting of this fair and, among other things, their approval of the tripling of tution fees two years ago, we consider that UWE management have demonstrated their priorities clearly: prioritise business of any kind even at the detriment of the physical integrity and the freedom of expression of a handful of students who did their utmost best to air very important points, despite systematic silencing,  hostility and even sometimes aggression.

For this reason, we need to stand up and speak out against the present and future involvement of our university with businesses and projects such as those present today. This is not just about one event, it is about maintaining the solidarity of students, staff and people all over the country and the world in the face of corporate greed.

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UWE students to peacefully disarm military business fair on campus through party

Press release
For immediate release: 18 November 2013

UWE students to peacefully disarm military business fair on campus through party

Photo/video opportunities: 19 November from 4pm (meeting at main bus stop of UWE’s Frenchay campus^1) and onwards^2

On 19 November, students of the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) and their allies will attempt to peacefully disarm a military business event of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) planned to take place the next day on campus.  A party entitled ‘Drop Beats, not Bombs’ will start at 4pm on campus and later converge on the UWE Conference Centre, where the Defence Procurement Research, Technology & Exportability (DPRTE) 2013 fair is scheduled to take place on 20 November.

UWE students argue that the University’s undemocratic decision to host this military business fair is not merely obscene; most importantly, it highlights UWE’s increasing collusion with business and military institutions. Students also denounce UWE’s strategy of cutting on courses, staff and quality while furthering a business agenda through large infrastructures which are largely useless to students and education, such as the planned 20,000 seat ‘UWE stadium’ or the conference centre, where DPRTE 2013 is to take place.

UWE students denounce the Bloodhound SSC project, a rocket-propelled car funded by, and developed in partnership with, the MoD, promoted by the University as a strategic project^3 and recently ‘greenwashed’ by the University’s Assistant Vice Chancellor for Sustainability^4. Instead of furthering far-reaching problems detrimental to students, people, education, and sustainability within and beyond the university, UWE students call on the University to start taking a responsible role towards their students, staff and education as well as towards contemporary societal, geopolitical and ecological crises.

Helen who studies at UWE’s Bristol Business School said: “With the ‘Drop Beats, not Bombs’ party, we will bring life to this university and further peace while disarming the business of death. This undemocratically decided and obscene networking fair enabling military, industry and business worlds to meet in order to make profits is not in the interests of students and education. It reveals the University’s considerable and growing collusion with business and military worlds. UWE Frenchay is stuck between huge sites of the MoD and Hewlett Packard. UWE’s collusion with the military and business is embodied in the Bloodhound SSC’s project central to UWE’s 2020 strategy. We denounce UWE’s irresponsible strategy of furthering a business and military agenda at the detriment of courses, students, staff, the quality of education, critically important research, sustainability and peace. UWE’s claimed commitment to its students is also contradicted by the development of large business-friendly infrastructures such as the planned 20,000 seat ‘UWE stadium’ or the ECC which are largely useless to students, education and research. In fact, they are even useless in themselves, because they will be and are mostly empty most of the time … except for the kind of big business that UWE supports and wants to attract, even if what they do enables massive power inequalities waste, destruction, suffering and death everywhere in the world”.

Notes for editors and journalists:
Updates will be posted on the following website: https://network23.org/uwe-struggles/
1 Information to access UWE’s Frenchay campus is available here
2 We may also be able to provide images. Please email us to express interest and make requests.
3 http://www2.uwe.ac.uk/services/Marketing/about-us/pdf/UWE-Bristol-Strategy-2020.pdf
4 http://www.westerneye.net/comment/2013/11/open-letter-to-uwe-sustainability-of-the-bloodhound-scc-cars-rockets-and-forthcoming-arms-and-defence-fair-at-uwe/5 See ECC’s calendar: http://info.uwe.ac.uk/events/eventlisting.aspx?categoryID=42, see the following blog post by a UWE student about the planned stadium in relation to UWE’s argument: https://network23.org/benoit/2011/12/14/uwe-stadium-what-it-means-for-uwe-students/

Notes for allies:
Please send this press release and the related petition far and wide: https://www.change.org/petitions/calling-the-university-of-the-west-of-england-uwe-bristol-not-to-invest-itself-into-promote-support-or-enable-profit-making-from-of-through-wars-military-uses-of-research-military-networks-and-violent-approaches-towards-conflicts
Updates will be posted on the following website: https://network23.org/uwe-struggles/

Contact and interviews:
Email uwe.better.together@gmail.com with specific requests/proposals and contact details.