To pass the time, the activists have planned several activities, including workshops and music performances. Thea Bradley is present as an amateur hairdresser and is just finishing her fourth haircut: “I do haircuts more often as part of my activist group University Rebellion. For me, it’s a way of taking care of the community.”
Activists occupy Erasmus building
Some sixty protesters occupied the Erasmus building on Tuesday morning. They are…
According to the university, the inconvenience from the protest is limited at the moment. This morning there were still lectures and exams in the Erasmus building. Another location is being sought for lectures and exams for the rest of the day. The university advises employees who are inconvenienced by the occupation to work elsewhere.
Thea studies Computer Science at TU Eindhoven, but is involved in actions at several universities, mainly focusing on ties with the fossil industry. “If we can achieve success at one university, that will put pressure on other universities to also change”, she says.
According to Thea, OccupyEUR has the favour of the public after the previous action, when the riot police 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.”
Jesper (just graduated in Physiotherapy from the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences) also thinks people will look at the action differently after the previous occupation. “If the university sends the riot police again, of course it will look very bad”, he says. According to Jesper, everyone is actually more relaxed at this occupation. “Back then, everyone was tense and uncertain about how the administration would react.”
Because of the public reaction to the police intervention, he does not think it will escalate so much this time. Jesper provides food at the comrade kitchen. His vegan stew is particularly popular, as he has already run out. “We might be here for a very long time, so I make sure people can stay well-fed here.”
Besides food, OccupyEUR offers other support to activists. These include the community care corner. Nash (a third-year philosophy student) is here as part of the wellbeing team. “Political activism can be stressful, so this is a place where people can recover.”
Besides a camping tent and some pillows, the care corner is equipped with first-aid kits, snacks, menstrual products and books, among other things. “We are provided to be able to stay for a longer period of time, as we plan to be here for as long as we need.”
Ten years down the line
PhD student and climate activist Vatan Hüzeir stood at the cradle of OccupyEUR in 2013, when it was still called EUR Fossilfree, and is back at it today. “In 2013, I started the resistance and wrote a letter with three demands: integrating sustainability into the curriculum, stopping investment in the fossil industry by pension fund ABP and transparency about ties with business. ABP did indeed stop those investments, but we are now ten years down the line still pouting about the other two points.”
Vatan also has experience of previous occupations at EUR. “In 2010, we occupied two halls in Theil with a group of students because of education cuts and the introduction of the loan system. Back then, security turned off the heating, but that was all. Now the protests are being ended with more force.”