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Cambridge students seek 'greater transparency' over college's divestment from arms companies

Students at Trinity, Cambridge's wealthiest college, were told it would divest from arms companies but weeks later it hasn't publicly commented
Students at the encampment on Cambridge's iconic King's Parade (AFP)
Students at the encampment on Cambridge's iconic King's Parade (AFP)

The student union at the University of Cambridge's wealthiest college, Trinity College Cambridge, has publicly called on the college to show "greater transparency" regarding its investments and confirmed they have been told the college will divest from arms companies.

But Trinity College Cambridge has refused to confirm or deny that it will divest from arms companies, in response to multiple requests for comment by Middle East Eye, over the last three weeks.

In addition, MEE understands that multiple students at Trinity have emailed the college leadership asking for clarification on its investments - but have received no response.

One of the students, who asked to remain anonymous, told MEE they wanted the college "to be more open about their decision to divest from arms companies, especially as this has been a source of concern and worry for many students for months now. 

"We're happy to see the College commit to divesting, but we deserve to hear this news confirmed directly from them."

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MEE revealed in early May that according to the student union, Trinity's college council, which administers the college, voted to divest from all arms companies. But the college decided not to announce it publicly after an activist defaced a portrait inside Trinity of Lord Arthur Balfour.

This came after MEE reported in February that Trinity had £61,735 ($78,089) invested in Israel's largest arms company, Elbit Systems, which produces 85 percent of the drones and land-based equipment used by the Israeli army.

MEE also reported that the college had millions of dollars invested in other companies arming, supporting and profiting from Israel's war on Gaza.

Trinity College Student Union (TCSU) released a statement on Tuesday 28 May expressing solidarity with "the people of Palestine" and backing a permanent ceasefire in Gaza. 

The statement also says: "Additionally, members of the college have indicated to members of the TCSU committee that the college plans to divest from arms companies over the summer, including those complicit in the violence and bombing happening in Gaza.

"In light of this, the TCSU calls for greater transparency from the college to its students regarding its investments and any changes or divestments made."

MEE has put this statement to Trinity College Cambridge for comment. 

Meanwhile, negotiations between the University of Cambridge's central administration and pro-Palestinian student protesters are underway, according to the activist group, Cambridge for Palestine.

The group began a protest encampment on 6 May, when around 100 students gathered on the lawn outside King's College - one of Cambridge's colleges. They erected tents and demanded the university commit to divesting from companies involved in Israel's war on Gaza. 

The encampment is still there and continues to pick up momentum.

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