As a response to the latest scientific reports that warn of climate breakdown and biodiversity loss, UT students are joining the global movement of ‘Extinction Rebellion’ by forming an activist group in Enschede. Two members of this recently formed group are explaining how to bring awareness about these issues.
Extinction Rebellion is a global movement doing nonviolent protests to push for policies that prevent environmental breakdown. The movement started last year in the United Kingdom and has quickly spread to different countries around the world, including The Netherlands.
‘Extinction Rebellion Enschede’ started assembling last April, after the association Sustain organized a talk about Extinction Rebellion at the DesignLab. ‘The talk brought everyone together, at least from the UT, and that catalyzed the whole process,’ says Channah Hilhorst, a 20-year-old ATLAS student. During this talk, Hilhorst met Linda Brumme, a 22-year-old psychology student, who recalls: ‘It took some time to get started but two weeks after the talk we had our first meeting.’
The group is holding weekly meetings to plan what actions to take in the near future. ‘The first step is to have information talks, to see who’s interested and give people a network to communicate,’ explains Brumme.
The students are also considering doing nonviolent protests in the city, like ‘die-ins,’ where people lay down on the floor and act dead, or ‘swarmings,’ blocking the traffic for a few minutes. ‘This is to express the urgency of the situation. But what you don’t want is people thinking that you’re an irrational fanatic protester because that’s not the philosophy behind Extinction Rebellion. It’s all based on science so you have to be careful of how you come across,’ says Hilhorst.
When asked whether the group has specific demands for the UT, Hilhorst tells that ‘part of what Extinction Rebellion wants is for universities to educate students on what’s going on in the world.’ To what Brumme adds that ‘this is aligned with Extinction Rebellion’s first demand of telling the truth about the climate crisis.’
Hilhorst mentions that although sustainability is part of the University’s vision for 2030, it’s still unclear how they’ll reach an adequate goal. ‘I think they’re trying. As a student, I feel you can learn what sustainability is, but it’s still not connected to a feeling of societal responsibility.’
‘You could choose courses that go in that direction, but it’s up to the students whether they want to learn about it and it’s easy to miss it. I think this should be taught always and from the beginning,’ reflects Brumme.
BUILDING A STABLE NETWORK
Right now, the activist group is only constituted by UT students. However, they’re aiming to engage more citizens in the initiative. ‘It’s nice that students organize these things but students can be quite fluid. They are in the city for some five years and then leave. We want to build a stable network of people that work here and live here,’ explains Brumme.
To achieve this goal, they’re organizing a talk next Tuesday at Tankstation, which will be given by Paul Hendriksen, a member from Extinction Rebellion Deventer. ‘What Paul will do is bring together the latest insights on climate science. He gives numbers and facts, which are really important to base our decisions on. He explains in which state the world is because many people don’t know yet that there’s a climate crisis. After that, he will talk about Extinction Rebellion’s demands and what they’re doing because there’s so much going on already,’ says Brummer.
The students will organize more open talks where they will discuss where and when to take action. All their events will be published on their new Facebook page.