Students and climate activists from the collective ‘Amsterdam Autonomous Coalition’ are today protesting in the ABC building on the Roeterseiland campus. Under the rallying cry ‘Decolonize, Democratize, Decarbonize’ the activists are 'reclaiming' the university. The group has not yet announced its demands to the Executive Board, but in a statement online it demands, among other things, that higher education institutions cut ties with the fossil fuel industry. There were earlier protests at Utrecht University, Erasmus University Rotterdam, TU Delft, and Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences in Velp.
‘Together with the dean of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, I've just been down to take a look. A few banners have been hung up, and teaching and research can currently continue as normal,’ says vice-president of the Executive Board Jan Lintsen. ‘At the University of Amsterdam, we're currently discussing whether universities should be partnering with the fossil-fuel industry, and if so, under what conditions. The views of these students are relevant to that discussion and are certainly being heard.’
Temporary freeze on partnerships
In February of this year, the UvA decided not to enter into any (new) research partnerships with Shell or similar companies, pending consultations between the Executive Board and students and staff. ‘We sense the urgency regarding the climate crisis and share their concerns. The topic is one that resonates throughout the university, and we understand why these and other groups are calling attention to it. We therefore wish to initiate a university-wide dialogue on the subject, to develop new policy together.’
These consultations will take place during sessions spread throughout the campus. The first sessions took place online on 29 March and live on 15 May (Faculty of Science). The other sessions will be held on 6 June (Roeterseiland Campus) and 12 June (University Quarter). Lintsen continues: ‘All university students and staff are welcome. Arguments from all areas of the university are necessary in order to properly consider who we collaborate with, and why. For that reason, it is now incredibly important to let your voice be heard.’
Current research projects
The University of Amsterdam is involved in four projects that are also partly funded by Shell. These research projects are aimed at clean energy, improving analysis methods, or creating a healthier environment. The UvA does not work to promote the use of fossil fuels, and conducts no related research. In a letter responding to a petition, a comprehensive explanation has previously been provided regarding the collaboration with other universities and partners on ways to accelerate the transition to alternative energy sources. Lintsen continues: ‘Collaboration with external parties is always subject to our own conditions, and must never compromise academic freedom, independence or integrity'. Click here to read the letter from a previous interview with Vice-President of the Executive Board Jan Lintsen.
Protests permitted at UvA, but no overnight sit-ins
Protests and demonstrations are always permitted under UvA policy, but not overnight sit-ins. Those who protest or temporarily occupy a space are therefore always asked to vacate the spaces at the end of the day.
Any updates will be posted here.