With great money comes great responsibility

To plagiarize channel Spiderman, with great money comes great responsibility. What we choose to buy can mean a decent wage for African farmers (fairtrade), more greenhouse gas emissions (food miles), the survival of bees (pesticides), rabbits having shampoo rubbed in their eyes, the explosion of a living duck’s liver etc. A lot of people don’t know about the power their spending has. They should. Then they should spend their money as ethically as they can.

Spiderman: With great money comes great responsiblity.
Spiderman: With great money comes great responsiblity.

But individuals are bloody fallible. I for instance am awful. When I spend my money I choose the best value and most convenient option. In a ruthlessly capitalist culture there isn’t much of an incentive in buying the (often more expensive) ethical product in that shop 5 miles out of town. We want to find the best and cheapest. And for a growing number of people buying the cheapest is the only option. Fortunately, individual spending tends to be ‘small beans’ compared to organizational spending. Organizations, with their official logos and their minuted meetings, can and should spend ethically, however. Particularly those organizations that are public bodies.

Universities are such public bodies and they are funded publicly. Most of their funding comes from student tuition fees and HEFCE grants (aka taxes). Unis are equipped with the tools of education, learning and equality to spend ethically. Indeed, Million+, the University mega-group, state:

[We] champion the contribution of …students and graduates to a fairer Britain and a more innovative global economy, through evidence based policy and research.

Yet, students and staff don’t know, and often don’t get a say as to where their money goes (ever heard of a students sat on a Uni remuneration committees?). But if they did know what their Uni money was supporting – from failing to pay the Living Wage– to supporting arms dealers – (my hope is) they wouldn’t be too happy. After all, to plagiarize channel Chaka Khan, I’m every student and I’m bloody well not.


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