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University Rebellion NL consists of students, academics and university staff. They urge Dutch universities to take responsibility for utilizing their agency in the climate and ecological crises. To this end they use non-violent and creative direct action.

Who are these people behind the facemasks and what are they trying to achieve? Third year Industrial Design student Elsa van Dam is a part of this movement and will be demonstrating at the entrance of Metaforum on November 19th at 13:00. We asked her some questions about the movement.

Why did you join University Rebellion?

I joined University Rebellion out of frustration for the lack of education on the climate and ecological crisis and its root causes at our university. Most students are aware of climate change, but not of the severity of the crisis, the global injustices arising from it and its far-reaching consequences for our home and everything that lives on it. Within the faculty of Industrial Design, we are educated to become designers for a future that won’t exist if measures aren’t taken. I think it would be a fantastic statement and a great step forward if universities would speak up and act on the crisis.

Furthermore, I missed a student group within the activist community. Now that I’m fully integrated into the movement this is also exactly what keeps me going. We are a lovely group of motivated, passionate and creative people who are different in many ways but the same in our core principles. Our love for the earth and all its inhabitants and our belief that things could be different tie us together and keep inspiring me every day to put my heart and soul in this.

How did you join the movement?

Last summer, during a meeting with Extinction Rebellion Eindhoven, the international movement we branched off from, I explained how disappointed I was to see so little students taking action against the crisis. Eindhoven is a student city and I hoped there would be more students willing to step up against the lack of measures taken. This is about our future as well as the future of all other life on our earth. We have the possibility to make a change. The only other student in the meeting told me he has been setting up a student community since February with students from all over the Netherlands. We called afterwards and from one day to the next I was an active part of the movement. I could immediately attend their meetings and use my graphic design skills for designing our manifesto. Right then I already knew I had found my home within the activist community and this hasn’t changed ever since.

What are you going to do, the 19th of November?

On our first action we will introduce ourselves and declare the rebellion against the lack of current university measures by publishing our manifesto and reading out our demands. This will happen at almost every university in the Netherlands at the same time. We will explain what measures we must take when the university decides to ignore our demands and we will hand over our manifesto to the Board of Executives of the TU/e. Because we are a colourful and creative movement we have some exciting things at hand to make our action visually attractive, but to find out what this means exactly you must see for yourself 😉.

How should the TU/e utilize their agency?

In short they should tell the truth about the climate and ecological crisis and its root causes by declaring the emergency and educating on the knowledge they produce. We want them to act now, for example by becoming carbon-neutral by 2025 and cutting ties with the fossil fuel industry. We also want the university to become more democratic by establishing a student and staff assembly. By taking these steps forward the university will set an example for all other universities as well as the government. If you would like to get familiar with our specific demands, feel free to attend our action!

Text: Bas Vink
Visuals: Bart Bolluijt