Climate protesters storm Sheffield Uni event and ‘force’ oil companies to ‘flee campus’

Bosses have been branded ‘hypocrites’


Climate protesters claim to have sent two of the world's biggest oil companies running off campus after confronting them at the Uni of Sheffield.

BP and Exxon Mobil faced a student sit-in when they arrived at the university's Launchpad careers fair on Wednesday.

The oil giants were invited by Sheffield Uni bosses, along with warfare arms seller BAE Systems, for the three-day event, as revealed by The Tab Sheffield earlier this week.

Bosses at the uni were slammed as "rank hypocrites" for hosting the companies, known for their roles in the environmental disasters Deepwater Horizon and Exxon Valdez, a matter of weeks after they preached about climate change.

Student protesters descended on the Octagon event, where 200 companies were present, and sat on the floor chanting: "What do we want? Climate justice. When do we want it? NOW".

They held up banners reading, "polluters and arms dealers not welcome here" and "exit for Exxon, this way" with an arrow to the door, as uni security watched on bemused.

PhD student Hannah Mottram took a photo of the Exxon Mobil stall an hour later, claiming to have sent the oil giants running off campus.

She declared: "We've successfully got BP and Exxon Mobil to leave Launchpad careers event".

The Tab Sheffield reported on Tuesday how the uni had found itself rowing with students over the companies' presence on campus.

Engineering student Nathan Strathdee called Launchpad "a horror show rather than a careers fair", while biology student Marta Nowicka tweeted calling for the uni to ban polluters from anywhere "in the uni vicinity".

Climate group People and Planet hit out uni bosses, telling The Tab Sheffield: "There's one easy way for the University of Sheffield to avoid such rank hypocrisy on the climate crisis: stop inviting these companies to campus."

The university confirmed, when questioned by The Tab Sheffield, that they made more than £2000 from Exxon Mobil, BP and BAE Systems at Launchpad, as each company paid £675 for a stall.

It comes less than a month after UoS vice-chancellor Koen Lamberts announced all students would soon be made to attend compulsory climate change lectures.

Lamberts and other execs at the university were then exposed by The Tab Sheffield for spending £9,000 on a chauffeur car during his first six months in charge.

The uni boss, who is paid £285,000 a year, also spent £1,200 on gas bills for The Croft, a university-owned mansion that he lived in for free between November 2018 and April 2019.

A University of Sheffield spokesperson said: "A range of companies apply to exhibit at our careers fair each year. We continuously review our processes and we are working with our Careers Service and Students' Union to ensure that next year there is a greater focus on sustainable, ethical and inclusive organisations.

"At Wednesday's fair there was a small and peaceful protest where some students walked in to the Octagon and sat down, but they did not 'storm' the event. We know that we have a student population with differing views and we respect the right of our all students to raise awareness of issues that are important to them."

Exxon Mobil and BP have been contacted for comment.