President clashes with Council on oil sponsorship

The President of the Warwick Students’ Union has slammed some members of Union Council as “irresponsible” and said that Union Council was “infringing the autonomy of clubs and societies”.

In a statement on behalf of the Students’ Union, Thomson said that “it is important for the Students’ Union to take a stance on ethical companies, however we do not feel that the policy passed is the correct way of doing that.”

Thomson labelled those that brought forward the motion to ban oil companies as “irresponsible” as they had not allowed for consultation with sports clubs and societies on the matter of advertising.

There was a lively debate at Union Council on Monday on Policy 697 “Refusal of Oil Company Advertising and Sponsorship” with division between those that believe that the Union should refuse all advertising from unethical sources and those that believe that sports clubs and societies should have the choice over their own sponsorship and funding.

The President also said that he did not believe it was “the place” of the Students’ Union to interfere at recruitment and career events.

Anti-Oil Campaigner Chris Rossdale said “As a Students’ Union we have an opportunity to choose not to take money from companies which engage in human rights abuses. I’m very pleased that we have expanded our list of such companies to include some of the worst criminals on the planet, the Oil Companies”.

Barnaby Pace from Weapons Out of Warwick also commented “Ethics should be at the core of our students’ union and not advertising oil companies who engage in human rights abuses and unsustainable, environmentally damaging practices around the world is a very positive step towards our ethical goals. Should this be taken to referendum I am confident that students at Warwick see that it is right to value the lives of people around the world over any financial gains from promoting oil companies.”

The President, Stuart Thomson, said that he would now seek to consult with societies and sports clubs in order to gauge their reaction to the policy. If society and club responses are negative it is believed that the President will seek to have the issue move to referendum to give students the chance to make their voices heard on the matter.

Some have questioned whether the President is able to fulfil out his role of carrying out Union Policy given his clear opposition to this particular policy.

Rossdale also spoke on the matter of a referendum “As far as a referenda goes” he said “I’m sure that the recent excitement on campus about the election of Barack Obama signifies that Warwick Students are serious about making sure that our institution maintains basic ethical standards. I welcome any cross-campus ballot on the matter.”

The issue has raised a great deal of student feeling and is likely to see further debate over the coming weeks and months.


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