Photo: University Rebellion

Protest group University Rebellion blocks empty VSNU headquarters


On Friday, March 12, students and teachers from protest movement University Rebellion chained themselves to the entrance of the headquarters of the Association of Dutch Universities (VSNU in the Dutch acronym), located in The Hague. They find that the organisation is not vocal enough about the climate crisis. 

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The blockade started around noon. Protesters climbed the facade to hang banners and sing songs, as can be seen on their Instagram Stories. Three of them were chained to each other (respecting the 1.5 metre-rule) in front of the building's entrance, while three others were chained to each other on the street. "They are also glued to the ground", according to a spokesperson. 

The students, researchers and higher education staff linked with University Rebellion (UR) organise activities against global warming, as they believe that universities should do more to contain it. Last year, the movement published its manifest, which has the slogan ‘decarbonize, decolonize, democratize’.

The UR would like to see Dutch universities be much more vocal about these topics, especially during the parliamentary elections and in its aftermath. "The next four years are crucial to make sure that global warming doesn't surpass 1.5 degrees Celsius", states the movement. "The VSNU has the authority and power to warn politicians and inform the society about crises they wouldn't be aware of otherwise".

Between 25 and 30 people took part in the protest, the aforementioned spokesperson said around 2:00 pm. "But the police has already arrested 13 people. The ones that are chained to each other remain there. We hope we can keep the protest until 6:00 pm".

Earlier today, UR had a meeting with the VSNU. According to the movement, the talk made it clear that the organisation "isn't prepared to fulfill its societal role", which is why they decided to protest right afterwards.

The VSNU has a different perspective on the meeting. “University Rebellion approached us wishing to discuss the climate crisis", stated a spokesperson, confirming that the conversation did take place today. "In our experience, it was a good meeting, so this protest actually took us by surprise. The universities are taking action against climate change in countless ways, from scientific research to making their campuses more sustainable".

In any case, UR's blockade will not disturb any VSNU employee. "Our entire staff is working from home, nobody is at the office".

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