Occupiers of Erasmus University Rotterdam: actions, not words

Since Tuesday morning, climate activists have once again occupied a building at Erasmus University Rotterdam. They want the Executive Board to immediately break the ties with the fossil fuel industry. In its covering of the events, Erasmus Magazine, the Rotterdam news medium, also features Thea Bradley, a TU/e student of Computer Science, who participated in the Rotterdam occupation action.

photo Jaap2 / iStock

On Monday, Erasmus University Rotterdam acknowledged that the world is experiencing a climate emergency, something that activists from climate movement OccupyEUR demanded at the time of a previous occupation. The Board aims to conduct a greener policy in the years ahead.

For instance, soon only vegetarian food will be available on the campus and all students will be taught about sustainability. And even more importantly, the university plans to reconsider its ties with polluting companies and “enter into dialogue” on the issue.


But the activists want action. “We are certainly not opposed to the university’s statement, but it’s nowhere near enough”, one of them told Erasmus Magazine. Since Tuesday morning, around 60 of them have been occupying the university building in which the Executive Board has its offices. Yesterday, they declined a meeting with the Board. They spent the night there in tents, even though that is against the university’s demonstration guidelines.

The same action group also occupied a university building last November. The demand then was the same: that the Board sever its ties with the fossil fuel industry. The police riot squad put an abrupt end to the occupation and removed ten students. It caused a lot of controversy.


Erasmus University Rotterdam is not the first university at which the Executive Board has made a statement about the climate emergency following protests. Eindhoven University of Technology made a similar statement after an action group had occupied two boardrooms for a week. But there too no undertakings were given about immediately severing ties with the fossil fuel industry.

Erasmus Magazine also features Thea Bradley, a TU/e Computer Science student, who takes part in the Rotterdam occupation action. She says she is involved in actions at several universities and explains what drives her. "If we can achieve success at one university, that will put pressure on other universities to go over as well," she says. According to Bradley, OccupyEUR has public opinion with it after the previous action, when the ME put a brutal end to the occupation. "I think it is important to change people's attitude towards activists, I want to show that we are there for everyone," she said.

In January, activists with the same demand occupied a building at the University of Amsterdam. The building was cleared within a day by the riot squad and 30 people were arrested.

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