Guus Dix of Scientist Rebellion explains that the climate activists noticed on the website of the mechanical engineering student association that the excursion was planned and deemed it was cause for action. 'First of all, to point out to them the paradoxicality of this excursion. It is sustainability week at the UT, which we are celebrating in the canteens as well as with lectures and events. However, we do not celebrate the ties UT has with the fossil industry, ties that we believe should be severed.'
According to Dix, the same holds for a study association like Isaac Newton. 'They too have their ties with a company like Shell and receive sponsoring from such a company rather than more sustainable companies. We wanted to point that out to them with this action.'
Although the study association wanted to leave for the Shell refinery in Pernis at eight o'clock, it was delayed by half an hour. Climate activists blocked the vans and held speeches. 'It was a mild disruption. We announced at the start of the action that it would be a half-hour delay and wanted to talk to them about the problematic ties between UT and the fossil industry. We handed out flyers and cookies and cleared the road at half past eight, after which we waved them off,' as explained by Dix.
Jesper Kussendrager, a board member at Isaac Newton, confirmed that the action was 'amicable'. 'It is unfortunate that we were delayed by half an hour. But we understand the point the activists wanted to make. We had a good discussion about that. That this excursion falls in the middle of sustainability week is an unfortunate coincidence. It had already been planned for over half a year.’
According to science sociologist Dix, who works at the faculty of BMS, the reaction to the protest was 'quite good'. 'At first, some students thought it was hilarious and there was also some laughter during the speeches. But students are not crazy, they know that the world is not doing well. We will be happy to revisit them later to have another conversation with them.'
Kussendrager says the association has had several discussions internally about connections with Shell and other fossil fuel companies. 'There is some division on that among our members. After several general assemblies, it was decided that we take a politically neutral stance. As an association, we offer as broad a picture as possible of what you can do after your studies. That includes fossil-based companies. But we do want to focus more on more sustainable companies in the future.'