This is a communiqué from the students now occupying Duchesne balcony in protest over Roehampton University hosting Shell on campus, and the numerous others that share our concerns and want their voices to be heard. We fundamentally disagree with the planned meeting taking place due to Shell’s appalling record on Human Rights and the Environment.
We have chained ourselves to the balcony railings and will resist any attempt to move us until the University agrees to cancel the Shell Step meeting in the library at 12pm.
This is a PEACEFUL PROTEST inspired by the movements we have studied in Human Rights and who have brought about progressive change throughout our history. We do not intend to endanger ourselves or anybody else and it is not our aim to cause damage to University property.
Whilst we would encourage the university to research more into the business practices of Shell and hopefully choose more ethical work placement alternatives, we are not against Roehampton students participating in the Shell Step program. However we do object to the University’s hosting of such a company on campus. A company like Shell that boasts profits in the billions can clearly afford to find an alternative venue anywhere across greater London.
How a University that places such emphasis on Human Rights and social justice both through the courses it facilitates and the resources it dedicates to CRUCIBLE (a ‘Centre of Excellence’ for Human Rights) can host companies like Shell is inexplicable, and should be a question that is raised at all levels. Would Enron, Halliburton, Blackwater or BAE be granted the same invitation? We hope that our protest can serve as a catalyst for this debate.
We believe that ‘Human Rights’ are something that cannot simply exist as an abstract concept, removed from reality on the pages of books. Nor are they merely something for academics to study, theorists to philosophise about, big business to commodify or politicians to legislate on. They are premised on the all too real, lived experience of people all around the world, many of whom often find themselves at the mercy of companies such as Shell. As such, unless we as a University actively engage in their struggle and confront Human Rights abuses wherever possible, then Roehampton cannot possibly label itself a ‘Centre of Excellence for Human Rights’.
This engagement must take the form of challenging companies such as Shell when they wish to use OUR shared collective space to hold meetings.
In defiance and hope, in the spirit of and in solidarity with the Ogoni people of the Niger delta, and oppressed people around the world whose Human Rights have been ignored, stripped from them or appropriated by politicians, businessmen or academics.
Roehampton Students for an Active Democracy
The Case Against Shell Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-g7WqFn1Tv8