Why should you vote YES?
The University of Sussex continues to invest in arms companies and work with third sector organisations despite several on-campus campaigns to end these ties. At the same time, the arms and natural resource conflicts instigated by “armies of business” and the escalating environmental degradation continue in the Democratic Republic of Congo, especially in the east of the country. The University’s continued investment in these agents assists in prolonging the arms trade all over the world, including in this war-torn region of Africa. The University ought to be contributing its resources towards human development and not human destruction. For such human development to occur in the DRC, it is necessary for the people to bring about this change themselves. Given that the educational establishments in the country are under-funded and under-resourced, this may take time the country cannot afford to wait. Meanwhile, gross abuses of human rights take place on a daily basis with armed guerrillas terrorising local communities, using rape, dismemberment, torture and the kidnapping of children who are then used as child soldiers. Up to 1.6 million people have been internally displaced and 45,000 have died each month as a direct result of the conflict since it began in 1996. If the University of Sussex were to twin with the University of Goma, in Eastern Congo, it would allow for the sharing of the elements that make our University one of the leading educational institutions in the UK with a university which severely lacks these. As well, it would act as a show of solidarity and moral support for the students at the University of Goma as well as for the people of the DRC in general.
Why should you vote NO?
Twinning with the University of Goma would be an empty symbolic gesture. While we fully appreciate the importance within student movements of recognising and fighting against global injustices (such as the recent Occupations), our twinning with Al Quads University has shown the ineffectiveness of these attempts to build successful links between the two institutions. Three years after the referendum to twin with Al Quads was passed, we have managed to make very little headway with the furthering of plans such as trust funds and/or the sharing of resources. Only this year, born out of the demands of the Occupation against Israeli actions in Gaza, has any concrete progression towards strong links with Al Quads been made. The Students’ Union is very committed to working towards maintaining and building these links with Al Quads, and we believe that the twinning with another university would dilute the efforts being made with the university we already have links with.
We recognise the seriousness of Sussex University’s unethical investments, particularly in the case of arms companies, and there is a lot of work being done by the Union to both research these companies and then call for divestment.
Twinning with a university should be more than symbolic – it should directly contribute to an assisting of education and provision of resources. We have still not been able to fulfil our pledge to Al Quads University, and to commit ourselves to twinning with Goma would be pledging an empty promise.