This is a clarification of the statement issued to you on Friday 30th January 2009. Please note that this provides further information on College investments in addition to that given in that statement and addresses your concerns in a manner similar to that at other institutions (such as Kings College) where occupations have ended.
We now ask that the occupation in room 113 should end: College authorities have been very willing to enter into a dialogue over the issues raised, but we are concerned that the occupation is now disrupting other staff and students to an unacceptable degree.
1. The Acting Principal on behalf of Queen Mary fully endorses the statement on Gaza issued by Universities UK and therfore supports calls for an end to the conflict in and beyond Gaza. We are particularly aware that many of the civilian casualties have occurred in educational establishments. The UK’s universities are resolutely committed to the right to education, enshrined in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Higher education, in particular, is a global activity and we value our academic links with universities all over the world. The international nature of higher education means it is a force for understanding, tolerance and respect between peoples.
2. We have now received from our investment advisors information about current investments. The College does not currently hold any direct investment in GKN and will be disposing of its small Cobham holding as soon as it can practically and sensibly do so. The College will not acquire any further direct investment in these companies and will review its investment policy. There is an invitation to representatives of your group to present its case with respect to ethical investments to the Chairman of the Investment Committee (who is the College Treasurer) for due consideration in the course of this review. We are happy to give an absolute undertaking that the group’s spokespersons will be able put their case freely to the Treasurer and that its views will be taken into consideration in any changes of ethical investment policy.
3. Queen Mary is always happy to donate any surplus equipment or books to universities in need of aid and we feel that would most effectively be done through the Disasters Emergency Committee Gaza Appeala. In addition, we are happy to facilitate the collection of funds for the Disasters Emergency Committee Gaza Appeal.
4. We welcome applications from Palestinian students for support under our scholarship schemes, as we do to students from many other countries with severe humanitarian crises. The College has an excellent record in this respect, for example during the Bosnian crisis in the 1990s. We are happy to discuss with the QM Students Union any future changes to our scholarships policy. We will play an active role in the national initiative, encouraged by UUK, to increase scholarships for Palestinians to study in this country.
5. We can confirm that we will not take action against the protestors provided that all action has been within the law and no damage has been done to the room.
6. We are keen to continue the dialogue on items 2, 3 and 4 after the occupation has ended.
Professor Phillip Ogden
4th February 2009