Just twelve Sussex students signed up to receive more information from the army at GradFair (photo: Tom Wills)

Just twelve Sussex students signed up to receive more information from the army at GradFair (photo: Tom Wills)

Army recruiters on campus were sabotaged when a list of potential recruits’ names was stolen.
The recruiters noticed the list had gone missing shortly after anti-war students had been handing out leaflets at the annual GradFair careers event.

The incident at the fair, which attracted over a thousand people, highlighted the unpopularity of military careers among Sussex students as it was revealed that just twelve had signed up to receive more information from the army.

The university, anticipating the possibility of protests, had situated the army in a separate room from the rest of the fair where they were guarded by university security. They were joined by Thales, one of the world’s biggest arms manufacturers and Procter & Gamble, which has been targeted by animal rights protesters for testing cosmetics on animals.

Police were called to the scene when anti-war students tried to hand out leaflets urging their colleagues not to work for the companies. The students were told to leave the students’ union building where the fair had been taking place.

The leafleters complained to student union officials, who agreed that they should not be barred just for handing out leaflets. After the students’ union intervened, the anti war students were allowed back in to the fair.

A short time later the army recruiters noticed the list of names and contact details was missing.
A university spokesman accused the anti-war students of stealing the list. Defending the original decision not to allow them into the fair, he said the University had acted in accordance with an ethical policy for careers fairs, which was drawn up with the students’ union protest in 2006 and states “The right to express freedom of thought, religion or belief must be balanced against actions that may amount to harassment or discrimination.”

He added, “We deplore the small-minded and intolerant actions of a small number of individuals who have sought to disrupt the normal activities of the University and infringe the rights and freedoms of more than 1,000 students who attended GradFair.

“They were allowed into the fair on the understanding that they would not disrupt the event or harass our students or employers. It is extremely regrettable that some of them let us down by breaking that understanding.

“Pending the outcome of any police investigations, the University would have no hesitation in taking appropriate disciplinary action, if the individual concerned is identified as a Sussex student.”
The students’ union and the University called for the person responsible to return the list.

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  • In correction to this article, the University did not accuse “anti-war students of stealing the list” of potential recruits from the Army stall. The University’s statement in full read:

    “We understand a list of around a dozen names was stolen from the Army stall at the GradFair on 29 October. We immediately notified the police in relation to this theft, and are offering them all possible support. Pending the outcome of any police investigations, the University would have no hesitation in taking appropriate disciplinary action, if the individual concerned is identified as a Sussex student.

    “The Students’ Union and the University are calling on the individual concerned to return the list so that this prospective employer can contact the dozen or so students who had expressed a wish for further contact.”

    “We deplore the small-minded and intolerant actions of a small number of individuals who have sought to disrupt the normal activities of the University and infringe the rights and freedoms of more than 1,000 students who attended GradFair in order to engage with over 50 prospective employers, ranging across the public, private, charity and voluntary sectors.

    “Our students’ rights to explore all employment opportunities available to them are embodied in the Ethical Policy Statement for such events, developed and agreed with our Students’ Union in 2006.

    “The GradFair on 29 October was managed according to the principles of this Ethical Policy Statement, which among other things states: ‘The right to express freedom of thought, religion or belief must be balanced against actions that may amount to harassment or discrimination.’

    “During GradFair, through a dialogue with the Students’ Union, an understanding was reached with half a dozen protestors who had been seeking to leaflet the event. They were allowed into the Fair on the understanding that they would not disrupt the event or harass our students or employers. It is extremely regrettable that some of them let us down by breaking that understanding.

    “We will continue to provide all possible support to our students in pursuing their chosen career activities.”

  • People really need to think things through. There’s a difference between not supporting the war and disrupting the running of the army. I don’t support the war in Iraq, but our soldiers do far more than that.

    The very fact that people have the right to protest against anything is because we have a military to defend the freedom that we take for granted. Just because you disagree with one particular war doesn’t mean the army should be attacked. Would you rather we’d just sat back and let Hitler take over Europe? You wouldn’t have the right to protest if we’d done that. Or maybe we should have just laid down our weapons and let the Russians role over Europe in the cold war. Or more resently should we have just let the genocide in Kosovo continue? The point is that just because the British Army is involved in Iraq doesn’t mean evrything they do is bad.

    And even if you disagree with that, I doubt very much that anyone would have disrupted the Fire Brigade if they’d been recruiting, but who was it that stepped in and covered for them when they went on strike? The army. If it hadn’t have been for the army hundreds of lives would have been put at risk. Would anyone have thrown paint over the Lifeboat Service if they’d had a stall at freshers? I doubt it, but it’s the Navy who’s rescue helicopters do a simular job along our coastlines. There are countless examples of the military coming to the rescue in this country (flooding anyone?) and yet the anti-military wing on campus clearly doesn’t take this into consideration.