Students Demand that UvA cuts all ties with Shell.

Students Demand that UvA cuts all ties with Shell.

On the 23rd of May, led by University Rebellion UvA, supported by numerous organisations such as Extinction Rebellion, students demanded, through a manifestation, that the UvA cuts ties with Shell and stops its bonds with colonial practices.

As was shown in the last student elections, decolonisation is a topic of great presence at the University of Amsterdam. However, according to the students at the protest, this becomes impossible to achieve if the collaboration with companies such as Shell continues. During University Rebellion’s performance, their participants told the story of Shell, its beginning in colonial Indonesia back in 1907 and the many environmental disasters and abuse of human rights that it provokes. As an example, there were 3.368 environmental issues in Vaca Muerta, Argentina. At the protest, Jasna Cifrová read this out loud from a letter from the collective effort of people in Argentina that demanded European banks and Institutions to stop the destruction of the Global South. Furthermore, 16.000 babies die every year due to the pollution of the Niger Delta, Jasna stated. ‘Colonialism is far from over’, Bruno Bottega, acting spokesperson, declared. 

As Bruno stated, ‘the university of Amsterdam is linked to colonial practices and it must face history and invest time, money and real action in reparation efforts, as the University of Utrecht is currently doing’. As the City of Amsterdam made a profit, the UvA ended up getting money from Amsterdam, which irremediably makes it a contributor to colonialism, the protesters state. ‘Shell’s colonial practices were always sustained with the abuse of indigenous rights, pollution of the environment that the native communities’ lives depended on and the burning of fossil fuels which lead us now to the global climate crisis’, said Bruno. 

The manifestation went on to declare that nowadays, the link between institutions such as the UvA, only helps Shell to continue to benefit from fracking and violating human rights and the environment. By receiving money that facilitates the greenwashing of Shell’s image, the public is misled. As many other institutions, such as the GVB, have already cut ties with Shell, students demand that the UvA does so as well.

Despite recently losing two cases in the Netherlands and having been demanded to reduce their carbon emissions by 45% for 2030, Shell continues to invest 95% in fossil fuel, while only 5% goes to green alternatives. For over thirty years they invested a huge amount of money in spreading misinformation about climate change, as was said during the protest.

Cutting ties with Shell would mean stopping inviting Shell to give guest lectures, talks or interviews, where they affirm ‘how they are “front-runners” in sustainable energy’, spokesperson Juul Verschuuren said. Furthermore, Shell is invited to career events where they can recruit new students to work with them and it funds research at several departments of the University of Amsterdam. Students of the University of Rotterdam were protesting the same cause simultaneously, showing the movement is widespread among students.

Photographer:  Said Rosales