‘Not all practices at the UT are in line with sustainability’

| Allegra Passmann

The new organisation University Rebellion wants the UT to improve its sustainability. This Thursday, their first event will take place at the O&O square. Hugo Hof (23, Applied Mathematics) and Benny Jabold (25, Psychology) explain about their initiative.

Can you explain what University Rebellion is?

Jabold: ‘University Rebellion is present at most Dutch Universities. Our goal is to make Dutch universities more sustainable by having them take an active part in politics. All universities together might have an influence there, also because current climate regulations are not in line with what scientists say. We want to make people accountable for their actions, because we have a lot of scientists here. We think that not raising their voice is also a political act.’

Hof: ‘In Enschede, we are with six or seven students, but we hope to grow as an organization. We also cooperate with organizations such as the new Green Hub and Sustain. It is important for us to have a friendly dialogue with the UT, we don’t want to antagonize them.’

Why did you start and join University Rebellion?

Jabold: ‘There were people in Extinction Rebellion, which I’m also part of, who worked on university-specific things all over the country that also didn’t agree with all points of the organization. We think universities can be a powerful ally to present sustainability aspects to the government, so we founded University Rebellion. I started it in Enschede, a few people joined and now it’s on the roll.’

Hof: ‘I was first focusing on sustainability by myself but then reached out to a few associations and through those, I found Benny and University Rebellion. I’m really glad about it because I think its values are important and see this as a sort of last resort to talk some sense into the UT. We mean well, but we want attention.’

What are you going to do this Thursday?

Jabold: ‘We have a manifesto, an 11 pages document, out of which we will read our demands and act them out. We will also talk about international justice, the role of the university in sustainability, climatic justice and hand out a copy of our manifesto to the executive board, which we invited. In Eindhoven, the rector will attend the event and in Groningen the president of the executive board, so we hope that this will also be the case here. Further, we messaged all teachers who work in sustainability and invited them, but haven’t received one response.’

Hof: ‘Of course, we will follow all regulations and even arranged a Corona officer in a yellow vest who will make sure the rules are followed. We are concerned, so we have to act now: the Earth also won’t wait until the pandemic is over and the situation is dire right now.’

Do you have specific demands from the UT?

Jabold: ‘Not all practices at the UT are in line with sustainability, on which we will elaborate on Thursday and present our specific demands, together with the scientific background, so we don’t want to give anything away yet. There are three categories of demands: the first is ‘Tell the truth’ which is about more acknowledgment of sustainability, and the others are ‘Act now’ and ‘Let the community decide’.

Why do you choose to present your demands in this way?

Hof: ‘We want to reach more people, also potential new members, and think the Executive Board is more likely to care, when we have more attention. There will surely be more events in the future, unless the UT immediately gives in to all demands.’