The university’s annual Science and Engineering Fair was disrupted by students protesting against BAE Systems this Wednesday.
BAE Systems, who had a stall at the fair, is the second largest global defence company.
The protest was organised by the Oxford Anti-War Action.
At around 6 pm five students entered the Town Hall, where the fair was taking place. Once inside, they put on “death masks” and held a large sign that read “BAE sells Israel kills.”
One of the protesters stuck a red tear drop indicating a number of Gaza victims on a BAE Systems representative.
The representative then grabbed him by his shirt and is alleged to have said, “If you don’t get out now I’m going to thump you.”
The BAE employee, who refused to give his name, later explained to that “these are private premises, people have paid to be here.”
He later told Cherwell “if they are trespassing then they are here for unlawful purposes.”
One of the protesters was thrown out by a security guard but later managed to get successfully back into the fair.
Police arrived at the scene and told the protesters that they would be liable for arrest if they did not leave the fair.
A police officer stated there was a need “to balance their right to protest with those of a lawful company”.
The reaction sparked criticism from students at the fair. One postgraduate Chemistry student, Liz Raiment, who attended the fair, commented that the reaction to the protesters was “not fair on students.”
However, the police representative rejected the comments, saying, “If you’ve got a problem with that, speak to Prime Minister David Cameron.”
The security guard who threw out one of the protesters told Cherwell that he was “‘just doing [his] job” and had “no opinion on the politics.”
One of the protesters, Ben Hudson, a first year student at Regent’s Park, felt that “not only is BAE Systems’ business immoral and unacceptable, but it is also incompatible with the beliefs of the student body to have them advertise at careers fairs.
“Their arms are not licensed for exports and they sell to countries like Israel, condemned by the UN for human rights violations.”
Kate Halls, another protester, told Cherwell “they said we are obstructing a lawful business but unfortunately it is an unlawful business.
“The university is not only willing us to do business with them but our fees are feeding directly to deaths of Palestinian children.”
Oxford Anti- War Action describe themselves as a group of student activists who are “outraged by the wars being fought by the UK and its allies”.