Birkbeck university banning fossil fuel companies from recruiting students
And it got even worse than that...
A little about me
I’m currently a 3rd year BSc Geology student at the London university of Birkbeck. I have a passion for Economic Geology, in terms of mining & prospecting for precious metals, energy resources and industrial minerals.
Up until recently, I never had any cause for conflict with my university, even though some of my lecturers had clear biases in favour of certain climate alarmist narratives. I could always just ignore their sermons and focus on the actual geology.
However, that changed in late September of 2022, when a fellow student notified me of an article in The Guardian:
The climate activists take over the university
The university’s Careers Service, which is supposed to help students’ career prospects, had seemingly just unilaterally enacted an “ethical careers policy”, where the Careers Service effectively get to be the morality police who determine whether your career choice is good or evil, according to a climate alarmist moral standard. If your choice of career is deemed to be “evil” (eg. in the fossil fuel industry), then no help for you!
The “ethical careers policy” (archived version; 28/09/22):
The following two bullet points being the most egregious sections of the policy:
In shock and anger, I sent off an email to two of my lecturers to ask for clarification about whether this was indeed Birkbeck policy. In response, I was told the following:
Lecturer A: “As a Department, we have already sent a strongly worded letter to the College Secretary (Keith Harrison) who says this is NOT Birkbeck policy at all.”
Lecturer B: “I too find it odd that this isn't College policy but it is on the website.”
Since nothing was being done about it, on 07/10/22 I submitted an official complaint using the Birkbeck complaints procedure. According to the university’s own rules, the complaints team are meant to get back to me within ten days.
It took two months (16/12/22) and an angry phone call to student services, before I finally got a response out of them, and this was what I was told:
Jonathan Woodhead (Policy Advisor): “Dear Mr Richards, I am just trying to tie up some loose ends in relation to your complaint about the Careers Service and careers in the mining industry. The Vice-Chancellor, David Latchman has asked me to reply. The policy on Careers Advice was discussed extensively at a recent Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) meeting and as such a policy was adopted by the College. The link is here: https://www.bbk.ac.uk/student-services/careers-service/ethical-careers-policy - As a registered charity and registered provider under the Office for Students (OfS) it would not be appropriate for us to take one side of a political argument. The College is grateful for support from all corners and political viewpoints. Our range of Fellows is testament to this. We have however taken your points on board when formulating policy positions on contentious issues in future.”
That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? Well, let’s look at what the changes to the policy look like.
So they removed the references to “coal, oil & gas mining companies”, and instead massively expanded the policy by granting themselves the ability to ban “any” company they think is unethical, according to a climate alarmist moral standard.
As such, the “ethical careers policy” is now even worse than it was when I first complained about it!
Basically, what they did was take my complaint, stonewall me for months (while they plotted and schemed behind the scenes, to make it official Birkbeck policy), and then they finally responded to me by slapping/spitting in my face, by making it even more expansive than it was when I first complained about it.
Yet they still had the hypocritical gall to claim that “it would not be appropriate for us to take one side of a political argument” - Well guess what, you just did, pal!
Demanding that companies “demonstrate a commitment to positive environmental and ethical business models”, with reference to the highly politically-charged terms “sustainability” and the “climate crisis”, is overt politically ideologically-motivated partisan bias in favour of “one side of a political argument”. No other side to the argument is expressed at all. You either bend the knee to climate alarmism, or your company is banned from recruiting students, posting job vacancies, offering sponsorships and advertising to students.
I honestly feel sorry and apologetic to companies that will now fall prey to this.
I’d have loved to go to the university careers fair to see coal, oil and gas companies looking for potential recruits - But now I know I won’t be able to.
I’m not even sure I’ll be able to find “any” companies of interest through the university anymore, because the university’s “ethical careers policy” is now so expansive that it will very likely include precious metal miners and industrial mineral miners too. It’s not like climate alarmists are going to exempt them from their wrath.
The only kind of mining companies I expect I’ll find, are those that climate alarmists need for their damn solar panels and windmills (eg. lithium miners) - None of which interests me at all. I simply refuse to give my sanction to their “green” agenda.
The earth sciences department rolls over to the activists
In response to Jonathan Woodhead (Policy Advisor) one of my lecturers email him back with the following:
Lecturer A: “In the future, in order to achieve our climate goals, by introducing e-vehicles, wind and solar electricity, and other green technologies, we will require as much or more raw materials than we currently extract. This is not a "political opinion", it is a fact based on an understanding of what is required to make the concrete and steel to build the wind and solar farms, and the e-vehicles, while at the same time feeding and housing 8 billion human beings. The extractive industry has woken up to the need for sustainability, and our Department produces graduates who are aware of this and who can contribute to a more sustainable mining industry. These industries need Birkbeck graduates, and it is unacceptable for Birkbeck not to be providing opportunities for them to be recruited.”
This is the kind of thing you write when you have no principled or moral argument against your opponent’s arguments, and when you’ve already accepted your opponent’s basic premises.
It’s like trying to defeat your enemy in a swordfight, by stabbing yourself in the heart.
I complained to that lecturer, and this was their response:
Lecturer A: “I think it's time to cool it. College have responded and made changes to the policy. That's a win, at least as far as the Department is concerned. We got the words changed and now it says nothing about hydrocarbons or mining.”
I replied that nothing about the changes suggests a “win”, because the new policy is even more egregious & expansive than the original policy, since it gives the careers service carte blanche authority to ban “any” company (not just coal, oil & gas companies) that fail to conform with the careers service’s political ideological biases with respect to “sustainability” and the so-called “climate crisis”.
How anyone can call that a “win” is beyond me. Yet here we are.
The fight goes on…
I’ve since informed the university that I am filing official complaints with the Charity Commission and the Office For Students (OfS), to demand that Birkbeck university be stripped of its status as a registered charity and as a registered provider under the OfS, for violating its obligations to remain politically neutral and impartial, particularly at the expense of its own students.
The terms “sustainability” and “climate crisis” are politically ideological partisan terms, not scientific terms.
It’s clear that the university has crossed the Rubicon and gone into the territory of being a brazen, overt, politically-biased, climate alarmist activist organisation, which will happily sabotage the career prospects of its own students.
I also said that I intend to pursue legal action against the university (with me being personally affected by this, and therefore having legal standing to sue).
I finished by declaring that:
“If the university wants this policy, it will cost the university dearly. Get woke, go broke.”
I’ll update if there’s any progress.
Good luck with your lawsuit. It's generally the only way to wake up the woke. Here in Canada we have several high profile legal non-profits that are suing government and universities at various levels for breaches of constitutional rights of freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of movement. It takes $ but they are having good success, with governments and universities dropping their discriminatory policies and sanctions. Next steps will be to sue for harm done to class-action participants, including many students who were forced into medical experiments (covid shots) or forced out of school for exercising their constitutional rights. Fraudulent Misrepresentation and Breach of Contract are two grounds for suing your university for making discriminatory policies which harm you, your career and/or your dependents (future). All the best!
I was recruited directly from college by BP in 1978. If they had not been visiting my college (Paisley College of Technology) as part of their "milk round" I would never have got an interview for sure however because they came to the college every couple of years I got a chance to bypass the 1st stage process or whittling down the applicants and go straight to an interview. I passed that interview and got a second one in London (with Lord Browne who was the Petroleum Engineer for Europe at that time and later became BP Chairman). That opportunity resulted in 42 years with BP all over the world; a great an interesting career.
I find it astounding that our society is now at the point where University bureaucrats can restrict the opportunities for their student body on the basis of politics. I also agree there was NO WIN here in the language change because frankly as I read it, they can restrict access by any company that doesn't fit in with their woke positions.
I despair at what I see going on all around us. The crowds seem to have lost their minds in mass delusion in so many areas. I can only hope they eventually recover their senses, one by one, before disaster ensues. At this moment in time, that feels unlikely......