Schulmberger, one of the companies targeted at the careers event by Extinction Rebellion, has a research centre in CambridgeMat Fascione

Extinction Rebellion Cambridge Universities (XRCU) disrupted an online University careers event on Wednesday (28/10) afternoon which included companies from the oil, gas and arms industry.

The event hosted four oil and gas companies - Schlumberger, GE Digital, CGG, Serafim - and BAE Systems, the world’s third largest arms manufacturer. All of these companies are either fossil fuel companies or heavily involved in the automation of fossil fuel extraction.

XRCU detailed in a press release to Varsity that they were not only challenging these companies but the “University itself for hosting and endorsing these companies as they pitched their employment opportunities to students.”

Because the event was held online, traditional dramatic XR tactics were impossible. Instead, activists asked uncomfortable questions to the companies. 

For example, to the oil and gas companies students asked: "the University has just announced they’re going to fully divest from fossil fuels - how do you think this would affect my career with you?" and "the price of oil has dropped massively because of coronavirus and the climate crisis - what does the future of the company look like because of this?"

To Schlumberger, an oil company, students asked: "I’m really interested in working at Schlumberger but all the Extinction Rebellion protests at your Cambridge research centre have put me off and I think I’d feel unsafe - are there going to continue to be protests there?" and "I read ‘Schlumberger set a corporate record it would probably prefer not to be noticed: receiving the largest corporate criminal fine for sanctions violations in US history.’ - what is that about?"

Meanwhile for BAE, XRCU activists probed the companies “involvement in human rights abuses and selling of arms to countries known to be killing their own citizens.” One question posed to BAE representatives was “what is the average number of murders perpetrated per employee across BAE?”.

According to the XRCU press release, the companies “routinely circumvented” the questions. The press release said “None provided an answer to questions pertaining to the moral issues involved in ongoing fossil fuel extraction with the science and evidence being very clear that oil must remain in the ground for society to have any chance of avoiding runaway global heating.” 

XRCU’s disruption of Wednesday’s careers event follows the University’s commitment early this month to fully divest by 2030. The University has also pledged to scrutinise research funding and other donations to ensure that the donor ‘can demonstrate compatibility with the University’s objectives on cutting greenhouse gas emissions before any funding is accepted’.

Sally, one of the students who took part, said: “When I heard that the University had committed to divest from all fossil fuels, I was relieved and very happy. But then I saw that it is still inviting fossil fuel companies to entice students into careers with them - I couldn’t believe they’d be so disingenuous.”

“The time of oil and gas has gone - 150,000 people are dying every year due to the climate crisis, which is largely driven by these companies, and our University wants to undermine their students' concerns for the world and convince them that oil and gas is a stable and respectable career?”


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Speaking to Varsity, a representative from the careers services said: "The Careers Service offers an impartial service. Students are free to make their own choices about who they do/don't wish to engage with and our position is that it is not for the Careers Service to act as censor nor to make value judgments on behalf of students about specific employers and/or labour market areas."

"The Careers service respects that there are members of the University community who feel strongly about the presence of certain organisations at University organised events, whether these are Careers Fairs or other activities. The Careers Service is respectful of students' right to protest as long as the protest is peaceful. It is extremely disappointing that 'action' at this year's Engineering, Science and Technology fair degenerated into abuse directed at both speakers and fellow students."

Olivia Bennet, one of the students who took part, said "I took action today because I am ashamed that my University is giving a platform for companies that are causing the destruction of our planet as a viable job alternative."