During the week of the 9th of March, a number or groups participated in Occupying universities in the UK and the US to transform them to be fit for purpose in times of social and environmental crisis, calling for divestment from harmful industries and re-imagining what an education system fit for the future can look like. They called for universities to: Decolonise, Democratise and Decarbonise.
But this is just the beginning!
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At Glasgow University, XR Scotland, Divest Strathclyde, Fossil Free Glasgow, and Green Anti-Capitalist Front disrupted an event sponsored by BP and took over it. Outside, XR Universities camped at the Cloisters of the University demanding they Decarbonise, Decolonise and Democratise.
In London Extinction Rebellion London Universities occupied the reception at Imperial College, calling on them to cut ties with the fossil fuel industry and running a series of workshops and discussions to educate ourselves about the crisis we are facing, with staff and students passing through the busy reception of the university joining in. Security guards were friendly as we carved out a big space to transform, including an exhibition of banners and info graphics about the university’s dirty investments. Towards the evening, we watched films about university activism in South Africa and youth activism in indigenous communities, before setting up sleeping spaces for the 15-20 people sleeping overnight.
Along with our action at the College President’s Address to the university, taking place just next to our occupation, and the thousands of people passing through our space every day, our message was impossible to ignore. Additionally, outside the windows at the reception the University and College Union are on strike and we were supporting each other through solidarity through the week.
Students occupied the 502 building at Liverpool university, calling on them to Decarbonise, Democratise, and Decolonise as well as meeting the demands of the University and College Unions strike demands. They were also out blocking roads at the university campus, police were called but only made empty arrest threats.
Students in Birmingham were chalking their clock tower to call for divestment during the week.
New York City
In solidarity with other university occupations happening across the world, high school and university students from various schools across New York attended a somber commencement ceremony about the futures we are unlikely to have in the shadow of the climate crisis. Mouths were taped, symbolizing the lack of student voice in educational decision making and our institutions’ refusal to listen to student concerns about climate. Students then staged a die in for 8 minutes, symbolizing the 8 years we have left to keep global temperatures from increasing 1.5C.