End Fossil also disrupted the Dies Natalis in February. Their demands were the same: that the university cut ties with fossil companies such as Shell. Following that action, the university promised to provide an overview of all existing ties, but according to End Fossil, that has not happened yet.
University spokesperson Caroline van Overbeeke has let Mare know that the university does intend to share that overview. ‘It will take a bit more time due to GDPR reasons, because we’re required to ask permission for the disclosure of data on collaborations with private partners.’
Research collective Mapping Fossil Ties is also trying to find out exactly what ties there are. Based on public information, they have compiled a database documenting all known ties between Dutch universities and fossil companies.
According to that database, there are several known collaborations between Leiden University and the fossil industry.
There are graduation prizes for science students funded by Shell and in addition, Leiden participates in four research consortia that are funded (in part) by Shell, a number of other oil companies and the Schiphol Group.
To get an even more complete overview, a request was filed under the Open Government Act last month on behalf of Mapping Fossil Ties, asking the university to disclose all financial ties, as well as ancillary activities and consultancy work carried out by researchers for the fossil industry.
End Fossil says it does not currently have any plans to occupy a university building in Leiden and will limit itself to the symbolic action at Lipsius, but on Wednesday, the group did occupy the PULSE building of TU Delft. End Fossil told Mare they intended to spend the night there, even though the TU was against it. The police cleared the building around midnight. There were no arrests.
Students all over the country are demonstrating against climate change this month. In Leiden, a protest by climate action group End Fossil Leiden Delft disrupted the lunch break at Lipsius on Tuesday afternoon. Demonstrators hung a banner over one of the railings in the faculty building and proclaimed their demands through a megaphone: ‘Cut the ties!’
The group wants the university to sever all ties with the fossil fuel industry as a step towards tackling climate change. They also demand that the university start lobbying the government to stop fossil subsidies.
As an illustration of their demands, three students, representing the university and oil companies Shell and Aramco, walked down the hall of the faculty building, their arms tied together with neckties. Another protester, dressed as Rector Magnificus Hester Bijl, symbolically cut the ties with a pair of scissors.
This action at Lipsius came after an announcement made by national action groups. Climate activists are staging actions at several universities in the Netherlands. ‘We’re doing this as part of the May of Occupations’, says one of the protesters in Leiden. ‘Occupations are being organised at universities all over the world this month.’