With the Fossil Free divestment movement continuing to sweep the country, and 93 universities divested so far, students are now taking up the next fight against the corporate players most responsible for destroying our planet for profit.
Thanks to some great work by student campaigners, the University of Sheffield Student's Union has voted through a Fossil Free Careers motion, meaning they will be boycotting all fossil fuel company recruitment events! You can read the full motion below.
So why are we so excited, and what does this mean in practice?
It means that Sheffield Student's Union will not endorse or participate in any event where fossil fuel companies are invited. These planet-killing corporations will also be barred from accessing Student Union-controlled digital or physical spaces.
Importantly, Sheffield Students' Union is also now backing the grassroots student campaign for Fossil Free Careers at the University of Sheffield. Students are demanding that the university careers service drops all links with the oil, gas, and mining industry, and now the Students' Union is behind them.
It’s a fantastic victory. Now, we need your help to tell the University of Sheffield: listen to your students and commit to Fossil Free Careers.
The Motion In Full
Sheffield Students' Union Council notes:
1. That the operations of the fossil fuel industries(1) cause immense environmental harm, by accelerating the climate and ecological crisis(2), and permanently destroying landscapes.(3)
2. That these extractive operations also cause direct social harm, by displacing people from their homes and lands,(4) demolishing sacred indigenous sites,(5) and leaving workers and communities with severe health problems.(6)
3. The global system of mining profits from the exploitation of oppressed and economically poorer communities, destroys livelihoods(7) and pollutes water systems.(8)
4. That graduates are increasingly turning away from the fossil fuel sector. A 2017 study showed the number of graduates taking jobs in the industry had dropped by 60% in four years.(9)
5. That 90% of students are either concerned or very concerned about climate change.(10) They associate these industries with responsibility for the climate crisis, and believe there is no future for jobs in the industry.(11)
6. The University Careers Service does not have a publicly accessible policy that excludes the promotion of careers in the fossil fuel industry through its website, careers fairs, emails to the student body and other recruitment events.
7. 20% of university Career Departments already restrict one or more of the tobacco industry, adult/sex industry, or gambling industry from accessing their services. This includes our university, which currently doesn’t advertise vacancies from the tobacco/sex/gambling industry to students.
8. The university has made a public ethical and sustainability commitment. This includes a commitment to fully removing its investments in fossil fuel companies. Sustainable careers form a core part of this commitment for the university to position itself as a globally responsible university.
9. In 2020 and 2021, a student-led society, Engineers Without Borders, organised and ran two Green Careers Fairs, attended by over 100 students each, proving a clear mandate for a green careers service, fully divested from fossil fuel companies.
Sheffield Students' Union Council believes:
1. Inviting fossil fuel, companies to advertise with the careers service adds legitimacy to the idea that these companies are an acceptable part of our society and our future.
2. The University Careers Service should ensure that its recruitment activities and events are in line with the university’s publicly stated sustainability commitments and strategy
3. The university’s careers service has a responsibility to its students to promote jobs with a future. Jobs within the fossil fuel sector are not future-proofed and promoting these opportunities is not equipping students with a responsible career path.
4. Ending this university’s complicity in career pipelines into the fossil fuel, industry is an effective method of showing solidarity with communities affected by these companies’ operations.
5. The mining of finite resources is not a sustainable activity and can greatly impact local communities, however, mining currently remains necessary to meet the mineral demands of green technologies(12)
Sheffield Students' Union Council resolves:
1. To publicly support the Fossil Free Careers campaign,(13) and demands that our university career’s department:
a. Refuses all new relationships with fossil fuel companies.
b. Declines to renew any current relationships with fossil fuel companies after the contractually obligated period ends.
c. Adopts a publicly available Ethical Careers Policy that explicitly excludes fossil fuel companies from recruitment opportunities and event promotion.
2. To mandate the relevant full-time and part-time officer(s) to actively work with the Fossil Free Careers campaign group and People & Planet to ensure that Union work is linked up with grassroots campaigners.
3. To mandate the relevant full-time and part-time officer(s) to help set up meetings relating to the Fossil Free Careers campaign with relevant university staff, and include student campaigners where relevant.
4. To mandate that the students unions sustainability network of officers, staff and students, review the topic of mining in relation to careers as a semi annual agenda point.
5. To use relevant SU social media channels to amplify petitions, statements and other calls to action from the Fossil Free Careers campaign.
6. To send out a press release and website statement announcing the passing of this policy and the support of the union for this campaign.
7. To never allow fossil fuel, companies access to SU-organised events, or to lend the SU name, logo or endorsement to events which include these companies.
8. To refuse the presence of fossil fuel companies in any SU-controlled physical or digital space.