Students occupy Utrecht University building in protest against fossil fuel
A group of students occupied the Minnaert building of Utrecht University on Monday morning to protest against the university’s continued ties with the fossil fuel industry. End Fossil: Occupy! plan to occupy the building for three days as part of the international action month #MayWeOccupy.
“This really can’t go on any longer. The university still maintains contact with the fossil industry in all kinds of ways. For example, with research projects, but also with excursions for students to Shell, and fossil companies are also invited to come talk at career day,” student and demonstrator Bobby told RTV Utrecht. “It is 2023, and we are still in the middle of a climate crisis. The future is no more fossil. So it no longer makes sense to push us as students in that direction.”
The students submitted three demands to Utrecht University. They want the university to cut all ties with the fossil industry, be more honest and open about the current connections, and implement a more inclusive policy. “We will occupy our university in the coming days to make it clear how important it is for us and other students,” Bobby told the broadcaster.
A spokesperson for Utrecht University said that the university understands the students’ concerns, but change takes time. “Sustainability is one of the four research themes that UU focuses on, and an important topic in our education,” the spokesperson said to RTV Utrecht. According to her, the university is working hard on being climate neutral by 2030 and already banned all work-related flights less than 700 kilometers.
The UU also stressed that collaboration with the fossil fuel industry only happens under certain conditions. “Collaboration with the fossil industry has so far been permitted at UU if the starting point is to help with the energy transition or reduce the pollution of fossil fuels,” the spokesperson said. The university is organizing an internal debate on whether to continue such collaboration.