University Rebellion (UR) is particularly curious about the ties with the fossil fuel industry and wants to know how much money flows from companies such as Shell, BP and ExxonMobil to TU/e and whether this influences research results and education. The action group has already asked the Executive Board several times for the documents, but has not received them till today. Bram Boer, one of the TU/e students who has campaigned for UR before and who has also sat in front of the office of the Executive Board, says: "That is why a petition has now been started to put more pressure on the Executive Board to be transparent about the university's financial flows," as can also be read on the protest board - see main photo.
It is clear that there are ties between the fossil fuel industry and TU/e, but it is not clear how much money is involved. In an earlier article by Cursor about the call for more attention to climate change at TU/e, this was also discussed, regarding a conversation between the Executive Board and University Rebellion on March 31. TU/e student Isabella Anglin, who was there on behalf of UR: “Vice-chairman Nicole Ummelen first offered to show us a list of the investments, but afterwards the offer seemed off the table again,” says Anglin. “This is important information for us, because companies that pay a lot are also more likely to influence research and education. We hope to be able to discuss this further with Ummelen in the future.”
Vice-chairman Ummelen responded to Anglin's statements at the time: “We have discussed partnerships with external companies and organizations, with the industry. Of course we have a lot of those. I mainly tried to discover the question behind their question – why they want a list. What is it really about? This was followed by an initial discussion about whether contacts with industry influence the content of education and the independent thinking of students. We've talked about ways in which that discussion could take place and I've pledged to think about it further."
The UR students who have sat in front of the Executive Board continue to protest, as Bram Boer already indicated. It is unclear how long the students have been present exactly: university spokesperson Ivo Jongsma indicates that students have not been sitting in front of the door since the end of last week, Boer from University Rebellion says that they have been there until late afternoon Friday, as he was present himself as well. The petition will soon be presented to the Executive Board.
At the beginning of this year, Cursor also requested documentation about third-party funds from Finance and Control. The promise has been made that that information will be collected. The reason for the inquiry is, among other things, the fact that TU/e has had the largest third source of funding of all universities in the Netherlands for years. Cursor wants to use the requested information to investigate whether this has an effect on education and research results.