‘A little before 11:00 we peacefully entered the Sanders building, sat down, and refused to leave’, tweeted the OccupyEUR protest group on Monday morning 28 November at 11:05 from a university building in Rotterdam-Woudestein.
Erasmus Magazine, the University’s magazine, said that some of the protesters had sleeping mats with them in preparation for a long occupation. The occupiers demanded an end to ties with the fossil fuel industry. They also protested against the temporary contracts and high workload of the University (‘precarious working conditions’). Futhermore, they believe that the University buildings should be better accessible.
The protesters also demanded one thing from the Cabinet: an end to study debts and full compensation for students in the loan system. During the budget negotiations at the House of Representatives last week, it looked like the chance of these would be zero.
At around 18:00, seven hours after the occupation began, the law enforcement thought it was enough. The police and military police starting clearing the premises. Of the about eighty students and staff members present at that point, ten refused to leave. They were carried outside by the officers.
The demonstrators had invited the Board for a discussion that evening, but the invitation was turned down. “We could not get it together organisationally,” said a spokesperson from the University in Erasmus Magazine. The occupiers received an invitation for a meeting at another point in time.
The End Fossil LU TUD in the Wijnhavengebouw in The Hague. (Photo: TU Delta)
Demands and a petition
A climate protest aimed at TU Delft and the University of Leiden last Monday went very differently. In the shared Wijnhavengebouw in The Hague’s city centre, End Fossil LU TUD held a gathering with speakers, attended by about thirty people.
Paul Behrens, Associate Professor of Environmental Change at the University of Leiden, called climate summits like the one in Egypt earlier this month a necessary evil. Zephyr Penoyre, a Leiden post doc researcher, spoke out against technological innovations as a solution for climate change (read about it in this letter).
Davide Rega, TU Delft doctoral candidate in Chemical Technology, then spoke about the impact of fossil subsidies at TU Delft. After that, Tom Twigt, master’s student in Offshore Engineering, put the presence of the fossil fuel industry in the subjects taught and during recruiting events up for discussion.
TU Delft alumnus and End Fossil representative Emre Gökalan closed the presentations with three demands.
- Stop Government subsidies to the fossil fuel industry and spend that money on education and research.
- Universities should break their ties with the fossil fuel industry and should be transparent about the current partnerships.
- Universities should become leaders in tackling the climate crisis.
Read more about these demands in End Fossil LU TUD’s petition.
HOP, Bas Belleman | Delta, Rob van der Wal