Open letter calls for withdrawal of University’s partnership with Santander

Charlotte Airey on the letter written by several societies demanding the removal of the Santander branch from campus

Charlotte Airey
11th March 2021
Image: The Manc
Several societies have come together to write a letter to the Vice-Chancellor, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and President of the Students' Union to object to the University’s partnership with Santander

Extinction Rebellion Society, in collaboration with various other societies at Newcastle University, sent the letter on Monday 9 March.

Chris Riches, the president of Extinction Rebellion Society, detailed how Santander “continues to invest in and support oil, gas and coal extraction of all types, to the amount of $25 736 000 000 between 2016-2019 (BankTrack 2021)”.

He goes on to explain how this investment doesn’t align with the University or city’s carbon neutral goal by having them here on campus or working closely with them. 

The letter emphasises the devastating climate crisis at hand, and that Santander has failed to put in any measures at all to help fight the crisis. In the opinion of the letter and the signatories, they outline how this reflects the University’s lack of commitment to fighting the climate emergency.

The letter reads: "Newcastle University, and the city at large, should aspire to greater action, instead of continuing a policy of blatantly lax and vapid promises on climate action".

We demand the University and Students' Union take immediate action"

“We demand the University and Students' Union take immediate action to demand immediate, concrete, and permanent positive change from Santander Group, or else they should be removed from University campus, and all ties should be severed.”

There was a swift response from the President of the Students' Union, Dorothy Chirwa, who confirmed that the branch in the Students' Union would not be making a return next year.

However, the letter made clear that they were including all University ties, including the Santander Universities partnership and emphasised that the University should commit to not partner with any environmentally destructive banks in the future. 

The letter was signed by the following societies: Amnesty International Society, Bee Society, Green Party Society, Fashion Society, Debate Society, Extinction Rebellion Society, Environmental and Earth Sciences Society, People and Planet Society and Politics Society.

Julie Sanders and Chris Day are yet to respond.

The letter can be read here.

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AUTHOR: Charlotte Airey
Politics Student @ NCL Uni

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