The protesters of Extinction Rebellion are keeping it clean during the Opening of the Academic Year (OAY). Guests are free to enter the Aula without obstruction, no one is chained to the front entrance. Their sound, however, leaves no room for doubt: WUR is toxic. They underscore their message with white suits and gas masks.
‘We are here to emphasise that the discussion on WUR’s collaboration with large businesses is anything but dead’, says spokesperson Kamiel Verhelst. ‘Our message is also for the guests today, who are often very influential. WUR is more than what is being presented here in the Aula. We want the OAY to be about what is really relevant for the coming year.’
And, that is not the successful or unsuccessful cross-pollination between art and science, as the OAY theme suggests. ‘Certain multinationals with which WUR collaborates, contribute to a toxic environment’, says Verhelst. ‘We want WUR to reconsider whether that collaboration is sustainable, considering the current state of the planet.’
A toxic-green cloud of smoke passes by the Aula. ‘We chose rather an apocalyptic protest’, Verhelst acknowledges. ‘A dark protest to underline the dark side of WUR. That may be one of the scenarios: a dark, hot planet devoid of all life. WUR must take the lead against this scenario. But it is failing to do so, in our opinion.’