Students behind the Demilitarise King’s Campaign launched a direct action protest in front of the Great Hall on Monday evening.
The protest was designed to disrupt the King’s Strategic Vision 2029 event. The event details the College’s plans for the next ten years and the achievements it hopes to make in this time.
Whilst guests for the conference arrived, around 15 students with placards and banners lay across the entrance to the Great Hall. Others gathered around them chanting slogans while dishing out flyers to passers-by and members of the public attending the conference.
Demilitarise King’s hopes to persuade the college to remove its investments from arms companies. They claim the College has 1.5 million pounds worth of investments in arms companies like BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin, something they view as incompatible with the wishes and best interests of its global student body.
Campaigner Alberto Torres, former Political Economics student, told Roar that the protestors targeted the Strategic Vision event because “social responsibility has not been included as part of this vision.”
He added, “If we are going to be a world leading institution, we should also be leading in social responsibility.”
Speakers at the King’s Strategic Vision event included Sir Christopher Geidt, Chairman of the College Council, and Principal Edward Byrne. KCLSU President Ben Hunt also gave a speech.
The campaigners wrote an open letter voicing their concerns to the College Principal but this was not responded to. Campaigner Nadine Ford said that by increasing action in this way they hoped to show how “close it is to the hearts of students.”
She added that “students with family in Yemen and Iraq, they feel very strongly about it. How can they have a good university environment when their tuition is used to bomb their families at home?”
A spokesperson from King’s College London said: ‘The Senior Vice President (Quality, Strategy & Innovation), the Dean of the university and a senior academic from the Faculty of Social Science and Public Policy met with representatives of the Demilitarize King’s campaign group last week. The university hopes to emulate the positive example of engagement set by Fossil Free King’s over the last year, who co-developed the university’s socially responsible investment plan, by establishing a formal Committee similar to the Socially Responsible Investment Review Committee.
There will be regular meetings of the Committee, comprising representatives of Demilitarize King’s and members of the senior leadership team and the wider student and staff community, with the intent of presenting recommendations to the university Council towards the end of 2017. As with fossil fuels, this will be a position statement about all the university’s interactions with the security and defence sector, not simply focused on the university’s investment portfolio.’