The Student Christian Movement (SCM) has welcomed the involvement of Christian students in a national day of action aimed at ending universities’ links with arms companies.
They said that they were urging churches “to recognise that Jesus would oppose the arms trade”.
The day of action, run autonomously by student groups with the support of the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), saw events across the UK on Wednesday 24 February.
A number of student groups are campaigning for “clean investment” policies to replace university shares in arms firms, while others have called for an end to the presence of arms companies at careers fairs and to arms company funding for courses and research.
“University research departments should be properly funded by the government,” said SCM’s National Co-ordinator, Hilary Topp, “The arms trade causes untold suffering around the world and should have no place in Higher Education”.
Arms companies such as BAE Systems sponsor a large number of courses, mostly in engineering but sometimes in science or management. A 2007 study found that 26 top UK universities had received contracts for at least £725 million over six years in sponsorship by arms companies and public military bodies.
"The arms trade inflicts harm on others, and the reality of killing, revenge and profit are disguised by the myth of defence,” said Rachel McCarthy, a student at Lancaster University.
She added, "If we reflect on the message of our faith, I believe we must stand up for what is right, and follow the path of love taught by Jesus, the Prince of Peace”.
The day of action is the latest event to undermine common perceptions of student apathy. SCM’s annual conference last weekend (19-21 February), had the highest turnout for more than 20 years and focused on themes of activism and mission.
On Monday 1 March, students from the Speak Network will demonstrate outside the offices of UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), a government unit that uses public money to market the products of private arms companies.