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UvA Rebellion demands that UvA cut ties with Shell

Jazz Stofberg,
20 september 2022 - 09:50

UvA Rebellion has started a petition calling on the university to sever ties with Shell. We spoke to UvA student Fabián Campos about the goals of the petition and the organization. “If the petition also proves ineffective, we will start talking about more disruptive actions such as occupations.”

A group of UvA students calling themselves UvA Rebellion have started a petition calling on the university to sever ties with Shell. At the time of publication, more than 500 people have signed the petition, more than 300 of whom are associated with the UvA, according to the authors.


UvA Rebellion, part of the national University Rebellion, is an organization with no traditional hierarchy and no official spokesperson. Here is Fabián Campos (19, political science) of UvA Rebellion on their latest action.

Fabián Campos (19)

Why should the UvA cut ties with Shell?

“Part of it is the lack of transparency that makes it difficult to understand the whole situation, especially when it comes to funding. Probably the most problematic is the relationship between Shell and the UvA in terms of careers. For example, the UvA promotes Shell by allowing the company to be present at career events and panel discussions. This may entice students to work there. That is part of the greenwashing the UvA contributes to.”


Greenwashing, what is that?

“Showing a big company from a greener side. If you look at the numbers, you see that around 95 percent of Shell's investments go to fossil fuels. With the other 5 percent, such as Shell hydrogen and other newer technologies, the company masks its major impact on the climate crisis. That way it can appear greener than it actually is.”


What are you demanding that the UvA do?

“In our petition, we make four demands. (1) Cut ties with Shell. (2) Set up a third-party committee to establish an institutional procedure to prevent the UvA or its components from engaging in any further collaboration with any big oil or any other companies that perform unethical actions. (3) Be transparent about collaboration between the UvA, Shell and other big oil companies over the past 20 years. (4) Find ways to replace current funding. The last point would prevent a PhD student, for example, from losing his position because of discontinued collaboration with Shell.”

What do you hope to achieve with the petition?

“We want to show the UvA administration that students and employees care about this problem. We also hope to get the problem more on the public agenda.”

‘They have responded to our actions in the past, but they usually that they are already working on something.’

Have you heard anything yet from the UvA about your petition?

“No. They have responded to our actions in the past, but they usually that they are already working on something or only working with Shell in a sustainable way. But that is not a solution. The UvA is actively working with Shell and this kind of response is greenwashing.”


‘If the petition turns out to be ineffective, we would start talking about more disruptive actions, like occupation.’

Do you think many students are aware of the relationship between Shell and the UvA?

“Given the size of the university and the number of students, no. When we carry out actions and demonstrations, people often come up to us and say, 'Oh, I didn't know Shell works with the UvA.'

Sometimes we do get negative reactions from students. They say, 'I don't mind that Shell is in the university,' or even 'I'm happy that Shell is part of the university.' I do think the average student is relatively sympathetic to our cause, but then they don't want to put in the effort to take action.”


What will you do if the UvA does nothing with the demands of your petition?

“If the petition turns out to be ineffective, we will have exhausted all institutional options and taken all possible formal actions. Then we would start talking about more disruptive actions. Whether it's more demonstrations or more disruptive demonstrations, like an occupation. Once we have exhausted all the different options and the university does not cooperate, then that is the only available path to take.”