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Protest Amsterdam Autonomous Coalition on Roeterseiland Campus

Published on 16-05-2023 19:39
Update 17 May: The protest was concluded yesterday at the end of the evening. After we asked the participants to leave, the majority did so voluntarily. Unfortunately, we still required assistance from the police for those who did not want to leave.
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The protest was concluded yesterday at the end of the evening. After we asked the participants to leave, the majority did so voluntarily. Unfortunately, we still required assistance from the police for those who did not want to leave.

During this protest, among other things, a call was made to sever ties with the fossil fuel industry. The Executive Board spoke with participants of the protest on Tuesday afternoon. The UvA recognises the urgency of the climate crisis and shares the concerns of students and staff. The topic is significant and resonates within the UvA, and we understand why awareness is being raised. As a university, we have a special responsibility, which is why we have had a comprehensive sustainability policyExternal link for several years, focusing on research, education, and our own ecological footprint.

Additionally, in February, the UvA announced that it would not enter into any new research partnerships with Shell or similar fossil fuel industry companies until the conclusion of a UvA-wide series of dialogues on the subject. On Monday 15 May, a constructive dialogue was held at Science Park. The sessions will continue on 6 and 12 June at Roeterseiland and the University Quarter. All students and staff are invited to participate in the dialogue sessions. Register here.External link

Update: 16 May 

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 partnershipsExternal link 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.’

Dialogue sessions

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. Verbeek 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 letterExternal link 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.

More information and relevant links