On Saturday 11 February, Cambridge Students Against the Arms Trade (CSAAT) staged a mass demonstration in protest against college arms investments.

The demonstrators, some of whom were dressed as arms traders, assembled at the Guildhall at 1pm. They then marched through town past St John’s and Trinity, two colleges which have been specifically targeted by the campaign after their investments in UK arms companies were revealed last year. The protestors finally rallied outside Senate House at 1.30 pm.
Campaigner Edward Maltby told Varsity that “we want colleges to make a positive commitment to actively oppose the arms trade”. Another demonstrator, Thomas Lalevée explained that behind  Saturday’s event was the intention  of “giving CSAAT a strong visible presence and showing the University how much we care about this issue”.

we want colleges to make a positive commitment to actively oppose the arms trade

Lalevée hopes that the demonstration, along with a petition signed by 1000 students against arms investment, will raise enough awareness to encourage students to start their own campaigns within individual colleges.
When asked by Varsity about the success of Saturday’s march, fellow of Trinity College and member of CSAAT Suchitra Sebastian said “What CSAAT has achieved is a start.  We hope that in the coming months, students and fellows can act in concert to bring about the necessary changes”.

CSAAT was set up in 2005 following an inquiry placed by the national Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) under the Freedom of Information Act. This sought to estimate the number of UK universities investing in arms dealers such as BAE Systems, Rolls Royce and Smiths Group.

The results of CAAT’s 2005 inquiry revealed that in Cambridge, Trinity College is the largest university investor in BAE Systems, with something approaching 800,000 shares in the company. Ten other colleges including St. John’s, Churchill and Darwin admitted to holding shares in arms companies, collectively making the University the largest investor in the arms trade of all higher education institutions, with a total of 1.6 million shares in the six largest arms dealers in the UK.
A second survey which was carried out by CAAT in March 2006 further revealed that Trinity Hall is the second largest UK investor in the arms trade, with just over £1.2 million invested in Rolls Royce and Smiths Group, accounting for 1.7 per cent of their total investments. Trinity College are yet to reveal their current investment position.

Kate O'Raghallaigh