UNIVERSITY OF WARWICK INITIATES TALKS WITH BP OVER TERMS OF BP ARCHIVE
- The University of Warwick is to initiate talks with BP regarding changing arrangements of the lease of the BP archive on Warwick campus
- Talks follow BP Off Campus campaign by student activist group Fossil Free Warwick
The University of Warwick are to initiate dialogue with oil corporation BP with regard to changing the arrangements of the lease of the BP archive. The archive is BP’s only UK-based corporate archive, and is currently housed in the Modern Records Centre on Warwick University’s campus.
These talks follow pressure from the BP Off Campus campaign, an effort coordinated by student activist group Fossil Free Warwick University, calling on the University of Warwick to sever all ties with BP. (1) The BP Off Campus campaign has criticised the presence of the archive on Warwick campus on the grounds that it legitimates the environmental destruction of fossil fuel companies like BP – in the company’s own words, the purpose of the archive is to “to enhance its reputation”. (2) The archive – for which BP has a rent-free 50-year lease – is staffed and controlled entirely by BP employees. It’s thought to holds key research into renewable energy conducted by BP during the 80s and 90s, which University staff and students have no access to. (3)
Following widespread pressure on Warwick over the presence and terms of the Archive, members of senior management, including Ken Sloan, the Registrar, agreed to meet with representatives from Fossil Free Warwick and Warwick SU. In the meeting, they agreed take the group’s demands and concerns to BP and initiate talks around the Archive arrangements.
The demands of the BP Off Campus campaign, and those which the University management are taking to BP for discussion, are for the University to sever all ties with BP. This would involve the University taking control of the archive, to be managed by University archivists in the public interest, rather than the interest of BP’s private profit motive.
“The fact that the University management is in dialogue with BP regarding changing the terms of agreement of the archive is a victory for the BP Off Campus campaign,” says Clare Hymer, a member of Fossil Free Warwick. “We see this as an important step in getting our University to sever all ties with BP and breaking the stranglehold of the fossil fuel industry over public institutions more widely.”
These developments come off the back of the success of Fossil Free Warwick’s divestment campaign, which prompted Warwick University to pledge to divest from fossil fuels in July last year (3). This year, Fossil Free Warwick have been specifically targeting the BP Archive, culminating in a march and rally to the Archive last term.
“For BP to have what is essentially a legitimating propaganda tool in the middle of a university campus is an affront to academic freedom and action on climate change,” says Connor Woodman, a member of Fossil Free Warwick. “It’s also clearly inconsistent with their prior commitment to divest from these companies, including BP, on moral grounds.”
Clare Hymer, email@example.com
Connor Woodman, firstname.lastname@example.org