Campaigners at Sussex University holding a banner reading "fossil free careers"

The University of Sussex Students’ Union has voted to boycott all oil, gas, and mining industry recruitment. In doing so, the union has joined the national Fossil Free Careers campaign coordinated by student activist network People & Planet.

This follows a motion proposed to Sussex Students’ Union’s Student Council by representatives from the union’s Sustainability Committee. By passing the motion, oil, gas, or mining industry recruitment will be prohibited in union controlled digital or physical spaces. The union will also refuse to endorse or participate in any event where oil, gas, or mining companies are invited.

Staff and representatives from Sussex Students’ Union have been working with student campaigners to encourage the Sussex University careers service to also cut ties with the fossil fuel industry. They are calling for the careers service to adopt an ‘Ethical Careers Policy’ that explicitly excludes oil, gas and mining companies from recruitment opportunities.

As part of the campaign, students have organised a petition demanding that the “University of Sussex careers department needs to stop putting new workers into oil, gas and mining industries, and take responsibility for building the sustainable, ethical workforce we need to transition to a just and equitable energy system and low-carbon economy.” The petition has been signed by over 300 people at the time of writing.

In addition to the petition, students have hosted educational events and held a protest on the university campus to draw attention to the issue.

The victory on fossil fuel industry recruitment follows on from the successful Fossil Free Sussex campaign, which won a commitment from the university to divest from fossil fuels back February 2018.

Sussex University Students’ Union Sustainability Committee secretary, Niamh Tickner welcomed the decision form the Students’ Union, telling Bright Green:

Universities have a massive influence in shaping the youth of today and have a responsibility to equip their students for the future in light of the accelerating climate and nature crises. By working with the Fossil Fuel industry, they are actively facilitating students into dead end careers with no sustainable future and acting as if students’ best interest is at heart. Sussex needs to stop pretending, address their complicity and recognise that they are betraying their students by denying them a future in the climate emergency we are facing.

Fergus Green, climate campaigns coordinator at People & Planet, said:

Students at Sussex have come together to say, incredibly powerfully, that they don’t want oil, gas, and mining recruiters invited on to campus. Now, all eyes are on the careers service, who have a fantastic opportunity to engage with students and implement a strong Ethical Careers Policy.

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