Yesterday saw a coalition of student groups in Manchester coming together to protest on the National Day of Action, simultaneously with many other universities across a range of issues. The coalition of BDS UoM, Campaign Against the Arms Trade, and People and Planet UoM protested outside the board of governors meeting for the University of Manchester to divest completely from fossil fuels and from Caterpillar.
Over ⅓ of universities in the UK (59) have already divested from fossil fuels after student campaigning. However, after 3 years of dedicated activism, the University of Manchester still has not divested the 3.9% of its total endowment fund (£7.6M) from an industry which is a major cause of global climate change. Despite the university openly admitting that divesting from fossil fuels will not harm the institution financially, its failure to provide an adequate response as to why the university has not divested yet has angered students, such as members of Fossil Free, even further.
The university invests around £2,114,435.97 worth of shares in the company Caterpillar, who created and continue to supply armed bulldozers with the main purpose being to demolish Palestinian homes, land and public spaces, breaking international law. The same bulldozing company was responsible for killing American activist Rachel Corrie. Caterpillar is in the UN Human Rights Council Blacklist companies, which is due to be published in Early December. Campaign against the Arms Trade and BDS campaign, along with a growing number of people, demand that the university ends all institutional links and investment ties with these war crimes.
The event was a huge success, joining together students from an array of cultures and backgrounds from different campaigns, demanding the University of Manchester to divest now. The event proved that the institution can no longer act on its own accord, without regard for the tens of thousands of students who pay over £9,000 of tuition fees. Coalitions between groups will continue to grow and stand up until our collective voices are heard and action is taken.
UoM BDS Campaign
UoM People & Planet
Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) Manchester
Unis Resist Border Control
Fight Racism Fight Imperialism! Manchester