Skip to main content

Let’s still BAE friends: YUSU Referenda results announced

Students voting in YUSU’s most recent referenda have voted against lobbying the University of York to discontinue BAE funded research.

Of the 1272 votes cast, an unusually high turnout for a YUSU referendum, 443 students supported the motion and 788 voted against.

Unsurprisingly, the additional motion to support “YUSU engaging with the university on how tuition fee income is being spent” passed with 894 votes. 129 students voted against the proposal despite no credible campaign against the motion being launched.

BAE reportedly pay the University of York Computer Sciences and Electronics department £600,000 to conduct research on systems for unmanned aircraft. In the referendum debate, held Friday 11th May, it was claimed that BAE had also sent academics from the University to Saudi Arabia to carry out research.

Amnesty International and DISARM York campaigned for YUSU to lobby against the University of York accepting research funded BAE based on the company’s poor human rights record.

In the referendum debate, the speakers for the YES campaign from Amnesty International and DISARM York argued that the University of York ethics policy already dictates that departments reject research paid for by tobacco companies and so should not accept research paid for by those who sell arms.

Speaking on behalf of the YES campaign and Disarm York, Louis Fletcher expressed his disappointment; “While the outcome of the referendum is regrettable, we would nevertheless like to express our deepest thanks to all those who campaigned and voted in our favour.

“We believe the 443 votes we achieved go some way in disproving claims that this campaign was pedalled by a small and vocal group of students. In this spirit, the ‘Campaign Against the Arms Trade York’ group will carry forward the momentum produced by this campaign.”

The successful NO campaign in turn argued that turning away a company as successful as BAE would hinder University of York students’ employment prospects in the future. They declared that BAE is not the evil company the YES campaign portrayed them to be – they pay billions in tax, abide by strict EU and MoD regulation and conduct research that benefits areas as diverse as IT and healthcare.

Matthew Kilcoyne spoke to Vision on behalf of the NO campaign.

“We are very happy that the student population has seen the potential damage that this motion could have done to the University, and have taken it into their own hands to not be dominated by a very vocal minority.”


  • College Chair says:

    TUITION FEE FAILURE WOO. Fight is over guys, get over it.

    Rate: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 5

  • Frog Head says:

    To clarify, the claim levied (which is accurate) at the referendum debate, was that the university had sent academic staff to Saudi Arabia to engage in a training program with the Royal Saudi Air Force – it was simply demonstrative of the UoY-BAE link, and how that inevitably implicated the university in abetting regimes like Saudi Arabia.

    As much as the ‘NO’ campaign derided those supporting this motion for being a ‘vocal minority’, if the Computer Science and Electronics department abstained from this vote, I think it’s plausible that they would have lost. My point is, the particularistic interests of a minority in this university were essential in defeating this motion. Which isn’t anyone’s fault, it’s simply ironic alongside the ‘NO’ campaigns hate for minority groups.

    Rate: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 24

  • Frog Head says:

    I should re-phrase those final words to ‘seeming hate for minority groups’. I presume they don’t actually have a problem with minority groups, despite what they say.

    Rate: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 10

  • hun says:

    This article is not evenly weighted – far much more space given to ‘yes’ campaigners.

    Rate: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 8

  • Frustrated Postgrad says:

    “Paticularistic” – what sort of a word is that?

    In case you hadn’t noticed, the CompSci and Electronics departments are just as much a part of the university as everyone else, so their students are allowed to vote. As an electronics student, I voted No because I actually know about some of this research firsthand, know what is going on and am confident that it’s ethical. We have souls too, you know.

    Rate: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 2

  • Frog Head says:

    I agree ‘Frustrated Postgrad’ that “the Compsci and Electronics departments are just as much part of the university as everyone else, so their students are allowed to vote” – I have no problem with the election results, or why the result was what is was. I just thought it was ironic alongside the ‘NO’ campaign’s explicit derision of ‘minority’ interests.

    Rate: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

  • Frog Head says:

    *why the result was what it was

    Rate: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Calm Undergrad says:

    The CompSci and Electronics departments were the only ones who had the definite right to actually vote! It is their career that could have been affected by a group that has nothing to do with it. I am religious, but am glad of the result as people have the right to work and gain experience with any company that falls under the EU laws. And besides, not many would say they are glad weapons exist, but we need them, it is a fact of life now, unfortunately.

    Rate: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 2

  • Awkward says:

    I’m just going to leave this here:

    Rate: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3