Two penn’orth: The times they aren’t a-changing

By penning these words I will have managed to write an article for the Boar in four consecutive years. To celebrate, let us observe how some things have changed, dare I say for the better, and some things have stagnated.

Union South is no longer a dark, fetid labyrinth with faux-Greek wall patterns. We have in its place a clean, spacious, albeit it as of yet soulless building. This is a positive step, nostalgia aside. On the other hand, where the hell is Oxfam? Indeed, the lack of a media centre or Bandsoc room in the new building are symptomatic of ‘financial viability syndrome’; namely that they are incapable of bringing in the ducats, and therefore have to go.

One principle annoyance is that despite ostentation to the contrary, the University is letting its ethics slide. Fairtrade commitments have gone out of the window. Anybody remember Percola or Ubuntu? Both were fairtrade. Both are gone. Now if you want a soft drink you have to make do with Coke’s or Pepsi’s bloodstained products. Even Costies’ hideous ‘Heritage’ brand is markedly absent.

Continuing this theme to Warwick’s ethically barren banks, Barclays Capital continues to sponsor student-run events, despite its primacy amongst financiers for direct investment in the arms trade. It holds £7.3 billion in shares in the arms industry, with around £500 million in BAE Systems alone.

How much can we honestly say our university has travelled in the right direction? My political outlook requires me to be an optimist, and indeed amongst the students and staff there are instances of great compassion. The recent Haiti disaster has seen unprecedented motivation for fundraising at Warwick. Yet something like this merely supports this gloomy analysis; that en masse we are more than inclined to help others when a disaster – be it humanitarian or political – presents itself. But that certain conditions are necessary for the emotional and financial outpouring that Haiti is currently the focus of.

Whenever something happens over a short period of time, in its full intensity, we will respond. Take away the element of shock, however, particularly if the horror is on some far-flung continent, and we can rarely be moved. Barclays invests heavily in weapons manufacturers, but we don’t seem to care. Coca Cola uses illegal child labour and depletes water supplies in drought-prone parts of India, and yet we continue to drink their products. Both are too far removed, both lack the immediacy of a disaster to hook our attention and hold our consciences.

I can only hope that when I finally come to write my last word for the Boar, some of this will have changed for the better. If you have any interest at all in learning more about the arms trade, or the criminality of Coca-Cola please get in touch. That’s all.


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