Cambridge student demonstration against arms trade investments, 2007

by Stephen Hewitt | Published 8 December 2020

On Saturday 10 February 2007, around 200 Cambridge University 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 in the market square and marched around the city centre with chanting and banners before hearing speeches on the lawn of Cambridge University's Senate House (Map). The speakers included Cambridge M.P. David Howarth.

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

At the Senate House cards were checked so that only members of the university were admitted. On the pavement outside, most of the speeches were inaudible, but Alice Ward and Paddy Leckie told me afterwards that since the Saint Andrews demonstration in November 2005, the finance director has held regular meetings with the Ethical Investment Campaign. There were some differences of opinion over what an ethical investment policy means. There was to be a referendum on the matter at Saint Andrews in March 2007.

Passers-by stopped at the railings of the Senate House to see what was happening. One man asked me what it was about.

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), People and Planet, Roots and Shoots The Jane Goodall Institute, speak, and Education Not for Sale.

Cambridge University Proctors

When the students were assembling in the market square standing nearby was 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 tassels. One of the men in a top hat said 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 and that Proctors still had legal powers in the University, within four miles of the steeple of Great Saint Mary's church.

An earlier version of this article was published on Indymedia in 2007.


External links