A world united, a campus divided

This year’s One World Week has attracted criticism from numerous groups including arms trade protestors and the newly formed Haiti at Warwick charity.

A Facebook group, “[Warwick Students fed up with One World Week](http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=270770964146)”, was created by Chris Rossdale. Rossdale’s beef with One World Week stems from the fact that Barclays – a major sponsor of One World Week – holds £7 billion of shares in companies responsible for arms manufacture and trade, according to a 2008 report by anti-poverty charity War on Want.

Rossdale said he created the group “out of frustration” after his attempts to confront One World Week organisers about Barclays’ sponsorship were “ignored”.

“It [Barclays’ sponsorship] seemed to sum up to me an ethos to the week that was about looking slick and looking good rather than grounding it in something more with the spirit of the event,” he said.

The Facebook group, however, has snowballed in the past week. It has attracted around 350 members, many of whom have expressed discontent with One World Week for reasons other than corporate sponsorship.

One student wrote that One World Week events “need to be less stereotypical and more intelligent”.

Another said, “The lack of transparency just makes OWW even more detached from the student populace.”

Rossdale was surprised by the extent of the interest in the group. “I never saw it as a campaign, I didn’t really think anyone would join it. I’m not trying to be a campaigner, I’m just making a place for people to vent,” he said.

One World Week organisers said that their sponsorship policies are set by the Students’ Union.

“We have to comply with Students’ Union rules like all other societies. Barclays sponsors many [other] societies, and has been a good supporter,” said Pavlos Yeorgaroudakis, One World Week coordinator.

“I don’t think we have a corporate event at all. It’s student-driven. It is a platform for all cultural societies, we just give minimal requirements,” said Yeorgaroudakis. “The fact that we had 18,000 people passing through our doors is a testament to the fact that it does interest people.”

Other controversy arose around One World Week and the charity fundraising group Haiti at Warwick. The group was formed in response to the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti on 12 January, and is active in raising money for the Disasters Emergency Committee, the Red Cross and Unicef.

Haiti at Warwick raised hundreds of pounds at the Fashion Show and World Music Concert on Monday in the Arts Centre. Those two events, however, were the only two at which Haiti at Warwick raised money, despite the organisation planning to fundraise at various other One World Week events, including ATB at the Copper Rooms on Tuesday night and the World Party on Saturday.

Initially, “it was implicit that we could come to the events and fundraise, and the impression was that we were no longer welcome,” explained Olivia Patt, a Haiti at Warwick member. “I couldn’t say why at all. Certainly there was some serious miscommunication between different levels of One World Week. Different people had different ideas about how it was going to work.”

One World Week has since pursued its own fundraising for Haiti and other charities, including Right to Play.

Patt said she was “not happy” about the situation. “Other than Monday evening, they didn’t even have buckets labelled for Haiti, they didn’t clear permission [with RAG], the only people who did were my small group.”

Anna Martindale, the RAG Charity Collections Assistance Panel coordinator, who is responsible for keeping records of charity fundraising on campus, also expressed her displeasure with One World Week organisers.

“Nobody ever contacted me about it – emails were sent either during or after the event. I don’t know where the money’s going to go, there’s no record of it,” she said.

Yeorgaroudakis said, however, that funds raised for Haiti by One World Week did, in fact, go directly to Haiti at Warwick’s account.

He also said that the problems were not One World Week’s responsibility. “We don’t block people [from collecting money] or require permission, the Union and University have control,” he said. The funds raised by One World Week do not have to go through RAG, he said, because One World Week’s finance officer is qualified to handle charity money. “It was a last-minute thing,” he continued, saying that the problems were simply due to a “miscommunication”.

Francesca Doggart, another Haiti at Warwick member, said, “I really support students organising things and I think One World Week has put on a lot of wonderful events. What happened between us and them was quite confusing, and I think that what did happen, even if it was exactly as I heard it, it was a couple of characters, a couple of miscommunications, maybe some bad judgments – but I don’t think that’s a reason to hate One World Week.

“In conversation, people have been using it [the conflict over Haiti at Warwick’s fundraising] as a reason to dislike One World Week. That makes me sad.”

_This article was amended on 22 February 2010. The initial version stated that Pavlos Yeorgaroudakis was OWW’s Publicity Officer, when he is, in fact, the event’s Coordinator._


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