Organisation - January 14, 2016

Academic protest on back burner

Rob Ramaker

After the occupation of the Maagdenhuis in Amsterdam last year an academic protest movement grew up in Wageningen too. Almost one year later it seems to have died down but the campaigners hope to revive it.

From February 2015 the Maagdenhuis at the University of Amsterdam was occupied by students and teachers wanting more democracy. The conflict started at the Faculty of Humanities and spread from there. In an analysis at the time Resource noted that there was little food for protest in Wageningen. Protest movements did emerge here, though, such as Rethink WUR and the New University of Wageningen (DNU). Their main aim was to counter the influence of businesses on universities.

At the beginning of 2016 the Wageningen protest movement is on the back burner. Rethink WUR has not been active since the festival and is no longer even visible online. Initiator Michael Marchman has apparently returned to his home country, the United States.

DNU is in better shape and has about 650 followers on Facebook. But even DNU has been less active this academic year says spokesperson Aart-Jan van de Glind, currently also freelance photographer for Resource. In the autumn just a few events were organized related to the TTIP free trade treaty. It was inevitable that activity levels dropped, says Van de Glind. When the attention waned throughout the country, less motivated people dropped out. DNU now consists of three enthusiasts. Van de Glind plans to make this group more visible next year. He himself will be concentrating on DNU fulltime for four months, from March to June, as an internship for his degree in International Development Studies, for which he does research on social change. ‘They don’t only happen overseas.’

The movement’s aims have not changed. ‘Independent education, accessible to everyone.’ DNU therefore regards the influence of the business world on Wageningen UR with suspicion.