Piano protest fades into anonymity

A piano protest in the wet nature reserve of WUR ended in anonymity. The old Steinbach was dumped illegally and has been removed.
Roelof Kleis

It appeared suddenly: an old Steinbach. Concealed by the foliage, but clearly visible from the Mansholtlaan. The interior was missing, so dragging it there could not have been a difficult venture. ‘For Fresco, from the class of 2020,’ a note on the keyboard stated. Beneath the note was another, similar piece of paper, which made it clear this was an act of protest.


The protest relates to ‘academic integrity’. The executive board was said to sacrifice this integrity to appease the private sector. The pamphlet reads like an advertisement for the business sector. ‘Planning a future in the controversial palm oil value chain? Want to monopolise the farming industry? We assure you, we can make your business dream come true.’

‘All our students are one hundred per cent free of political, historical and philosophical awareness’, the activists add cynically. Strips of paper were attached with the text: ‘Greenwashing at a competitive price’, and the WUR central phone number. The content more or less makes the nature of the protest clear: the oft-criticised collaboration between WUR and the business sector.


It is unclear who is behind the action. Despite requests on social media by resource, no-one came forward. Moreover, the protest was abruptly ended. ‘I have no idea how long the piano was there. We were alerted by colleagues on Tuesday, and had it removed immediately’, spokesperson Simon Vink states. ‘The campus is not meant for illegal dumping of rubbish.’

Vink also has no idea who put the piano there. ‘I don’t know whether it was an act of protest, and if so. Against what.’ However, the texts suggest otherwise. In addition to the anonymity of the protesters, the symbolism behind the piano also raises questions and speculation. Could it possibly refer to the off-key course of actions some leftist activists claim WUR has taken?

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