Photo impression of the Rotterdam protest

'Maybe naive'

Adriana Den Haag protest Palestina foto Tessa Hofland
Adriana with her sign in The Hague. Image credit: Tessa Hofland

16:50 – Some two hundred Rotterdam students are in The Hague to support the occupation of the Wijnhaven campus. Some PVV workers engage in discussions with the students. Few protesters want to talk to the media, Adriana (Management of International Social Challenges) is an exception. Why she is here? “Genocide is bad!” She thinks it is important to be physically present. “We have to show ourselves.” Many fellow demonstrators hide their faces, but Adriana does not. “Maybe I am naive, but I feel safe enough in the Netherlands to do this.”

Campus reopens tomorrow

Palestina protest Rotterdam CS 16052024_9_Tyna Le
Image credit: Tyna Le

16:42 – The university will reopen tomorrow (Friday). A university spokesperson informed that though safety of students and staff is paramount, education is important and therefore it must go ahead. A book discussion with Maya Wind, who wrote the book Towers of Ivory and Steel about the ties of Israeli universities with military violence, will also proceed as planned on Friday night.

Mixed reactions on relocation

Palestina protest Rotterdam CS 16052024_18_Tyna Le
Image credit: Tyna Le

16:20 – Students have mixed reactions to the protest taking place outside Central Station. “They are setting up cameras [on campus], and there is a lot of surveillance and police. They closed the buildings, which is not what we wanted”, says one Communication and Media student, who wished to remain anonymous. Some agreed to the closure of the buildings. “Based on what happened at other universities, the university shutdown makes sense.” Others thought it was bit naive from the protest organisation to not expect a response from university. “I found it a bit idealistic that you expect to be able to organise this on campus, after what happened in Amsterdam.”

Group of protesters to The Hague

protesters den haag demonstranten palestina foto Tessa Hofland (EM)
A group of protesters traveled to The Hague. Image credit: Tessa Hofland

15:50 – Some sixty protesters travelled from Rotterdam to The Hague to join the occupation of Leiden University’s Wijnhaven campus. An increasingly smaller section is still holding up in front of Central Station, where the atmosphere is calm so far. According to protesters, many participants did feel a lot of fear of the officers, but there do not seem to be any incidents as yet.

'Blood on our hands'

watermelon guy protest centraal station palestina foto maya barakova
A man offered a watermelon to a cop. Image credit: Maya Barakova

15:00 – Lots of students are dressed up for the occassion. One person painted her hair with melon seeds, referring to the watermelon symbol of the protests. A protester fed a policeman a piece of watermelon. Some people hide their faces with face masks. Others brought drums and signs saying ‘Blood on our hands’ and ‘Disclose, divest, we will not stop we will not rest’.

Protest at Central Station kicks off

protest Centraal Station palestina foto Tessa Hofland (EM)
Image credit: Tessa Hofland

14:45 – About four hundred activists have gathered in front of the Central Station. The square and the entrance to the station are watched by several dozen policemen, while police cars and riot police vans are on standby around the square. The group is planning to travel to The Hague to join a protest at Leiden University.

Jewish students feel unsafe on campus

13:12 – Jewish students avoided the campus on Thursday because of the possible protest, two EUR students tell. “But actually we are there as little as possible anyway.”

RSM student Samuel* has a class but skips it this time. “I have no compulsory lectures or exams on Thursday, so I don’t need to be on campus. And I don’t actually know for sure whether I would have skipped them because of the protest.” Rose*, an International Business Administration student, says she is not afraid of the protest, mainly because she does not look Jewish. She does notice discomfort about the protest in herself, but she says that applies to many non-activist students. “Most just want to be able to study safely”, she says.

At the same time, she does see that many Jewish students actually avoid campus as much as possible anyway. “We are constantly asked what we think of the war, of the protests, how we feel. Everything becomes political. We just want to be students.”

Rose thinks it’s ‘better’ that the university has allowed the protest. “That way it might become a peaceful protest, and not get as out of hand as in Amsterdam.”

* The interviews were conducted before the protest was moved to Central Station. The students’ names are fictitious at their request. Their real names are known to the editors.

Protest moved to Central Station

13:00 – According to an Instagram post by the organising Palestine Solidarity Rotterdam, the protest has been moved to Central Station and will take place at 2 pm.

PhD defence moved to Nieuwe Luxor

11:51 – The PhD defences that were scheduled for today are moved to the Nieuwe Luxor, the beadle Marleen van Kester said. There were three defences scheduled for today.

Sustainability Summit moved to October

11:49 – The Erasmus Sustainability Summit will not take place today and will be moved to October. The organisers alerted the attendees via e-mail last night. “We are deeply saddened”, the organisation says about the postponement.

The Sustainability Summit is a two-day event that was to take place for the first time this year. It is meant to reflect on a sustainable future of Dutch academia. The program included several workshops on ‘transforming higher education in the Netherlands’ into a green and inclusive place, and a discussion with president of the Executive Board Ed Brinksma.

“There is, clearly, a need and orientation for our communities all around the country to demonstrate and be participative during these tricky times. We respect that and we want to endorse voices and requests that aim to be heard, the whole idea of our Summit was to give stage to the transformative movements across our institutions, said the organisation in the e-mail.

Executive Board: 'cancellation' might be a strategy

11:22 – The Executive Board is aware of the cancellation of the protest, but it doesn’t change anything about the closure of the campus, a spokesperson said to EM. The Executive Board seriously considers the possibility that the news about the cancellation is ‘strategic’ and may be untrue.

Whether the campus will reopen is unclear, a decision about that will be taken later today. A reopening today is out of the question, according to the spokesperson.

Protest cancelled

campus afgesloten protest Palestina foto Elmer Smaling (EM)
The campus is open but completely deserted because of the closure of all the buildings. Image credit: Elmer Smaling

10:00 – The protest on campus has been cancelled because of the closure of the campus. Perhaps the protest will be moved elsewhere.

campus afgesloten protest Palestina foto Elmer Smaling (EM)

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Not the first protest at Erasmus University

9:00 – Is this the first protest against collaborations with Israel? Certainly not. There have been critical voices even before the events on 7 October. For example, over 400 scientists and teachers called for a boycott in May 2021. They were critical not only because of the attitude against over Palestine, but also because Israeli institutions have ties to the military. Students followed suit and hands up banners on the facade of Erasmus University College in the centre of Rotterdam.

banners palestine Erasmus University College EUC photo twitter

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Here's what to expect today

9:00 – What to expect this afternoon? The demonstration initially announced is in solidarity with Palestine and against Erasmus University’s ties with universities in Israel.

According to the Board, there are currently four collaborations between the Rotterdam university and Israeli universities.

  1. The Rotterdam School of Management has an exchange programme with Tel Aviv University and Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  2. The Erasmus School of Law with Bar-Ilan University
  3. The master degree programme European Master in Law & Economics has a collaboration with the University of Haifa
  4. The last collaboration involves the faculty at Erasmus MC, where projects with Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Health Corporation Rambam, University of Haifa and Weizmann Institute of Science are ongoing through the Horizon Europe programme

Uncommonly quiet campus

campus afgesloten dixies cameras protest palestina Sanders foto Elmer Smaling (EM)
Toilets and a mobile camera unit is placed on the Erasmus Plaza. Image credit: Elmer Smaling

8:00 – It has been a long time since campus Woudestein was so quiet in the middle of May. The Rotterdam triangle, consisting of mayor, police and the public prosecutor, recommended that all buildings remain closed today.

“We see a lot of messages on social media calling for protests on the campus”, said a spokesman of mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb. Many more than just from the student parties involved. That the campus has lots of large buildings would make ensuring safety more difficult. Protesters could then easily disappear into the buildings.

ochtendzon lege campus corona Tessa Hofland

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All buildings at Woudestein closed on Thursday, grounds remain open for protests

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