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Cambridge University arms investment demonstration, 10 Feb 2007

Hewitt | 11.02.2007 13:36 | Anti-militarism | Education | Cambridge

On Saturday 10 February 2007, around 200 Cambridge students took part in a demonstration against investment by their colleges in the arms trade. Organised by Cambridge Students Against the Arms Trade (CSAAT), the participants assembled outside the Guildhall and marched around the the centre of Cambridge with chanting and banners before assembling on the lawn of the Senate House (where cards were checked so that only members of the university were admitted) to listen to speakers who included the local M.P. David Howarth.

Other speakers included Paddy Leckie and Alice Ward of the Ethical
Investment Campaign at Saint Andrews University. Paddie Leckie said
that after a similar demonstration at Saint Andrews the director of
finance had made a commitment to an ethical investment policy.

To your reporter on the pavement outside the railings of the Senate
House, most of the speeches were inaudible, but Alice Ward and Paddy
Leckie subsequently told me that since the Saint Andrews demonstration
in November 2005, the finance director has held regular meetings with the
Ethical Investment Campaign. There are some differences of opinion over
what an ethical investment policy means. There is to be a referendum
on the matter at Saint Andrews in March this year.

Passers-by stopped at the railings of the Senate House to see what
was happening. One man asked me what it was about. With the banners
facing the Senate House, this was not at all apparent.

Earlier when the students were assembling outside the Guildhall I saw
standing nearby a group of three men wearing black suits, coats and top
hats and highly polished black shoes. Near to them was another group
of four, similarly in black, but wearing mortice boards with tassles.
One of the men in a top hat told me that he and the others with top
hats are the Proctors' men, and the ones with the mortice boards are the
Proctors themselves. I asked a Proctor whether four was not rather more
than necessary for this event and he told me that in fact there were six.
Proctors still have legal powers in the University - this presumably
meant over members of the University rather than in a physical location -
within four miles of the steeple of Great Saint Mary's church. He also
told me that the march would be passing down All Saints Passage - which
indeed it subsequently did - because the police had not wanted it to pass
through a certain other part of the centre. I took advantage of this
information to take up a position in the narrow All Saints Passage ahead
of the march in order to count the people passing: approximately 205.
(This count might have inadvertently included a few Proctors.)

Some of the banners read "Stop college arms investment", "college business
is our business", "ethical investment now", "clean investment now" and
"drop fees not bombs". Chanting included "hey ho arms investments have
to go". A leaflet given out says that the demonstration was supported by
Women's Union, RESPECT, CUSU (Cambridge University Students Union), CULC
(Cambridge University Labour Club, and indeed I saw a banner with the
corporate-style red rose logo of the Labour Party), People and Planet,
Roots and Shoots The Jane Goodall Institute, speak, and Education Not
for Sale.