The group of approximately 25 students demand that WUR severs all its ties with the fossil industry, among other things.
The balcony and the corridor, rooms 420 to and including 440, are closed, and the entrance is blocked. The lectures planned for these rooms were moved to other locations. A staff member directs the students to an alternative location, but the group is prepared to hunker down for a while, says Noor, one of the End Fossil WUR members. There is live music, and speeches are to be held around lunch hour.
The activists intend to occupy the balcony until WUR meets their demands. In addition to severing ties with businesses such as Shell, they also want a more democratic WUR. The role of the supervisory board, in particular, is considered a problem, says Noor (who declines to give her last name), of Extinction Rebelling. ‘The members of that board are government-appointed. A neoliberal government will appoint people that fit its narrative. Two of the members of the supervisory board are employed by large food businesses: Vion Food Group and Zeelandia. We see that the climate issue results in part from the desire for profit in large corporates, and this is a bad fit with a sustainable university.’
Finally, the group calls for the decolonisation of education. ‘WUR has an extensive colonial history. The university grew by providing technology for the colonies, Indonesia in particular’, says Noor. ‘That is reflected in education. International Land and Water Management is based on the former colonial agriculture programme. We want to investigate whether course content has been decolonised, and we want to increase students’ awareness of WUR’s history.’
Noor is optimistic about the day. ‘We expect WUR to begin folding today. And hopefully, they will refrain from calling the cops on their own students.’ Noor declines to reveal whether they have provisions for a stay of more than a single day.
The WUR spokesperson did not wish to comment at this moment.