Students play dead for climate

On Thursday, students played dead on the steps of the Academy building. Protest group Extinction Rebellion Groningen held a die-in to draw attention to climate change.
By Michelle Gerssen / Translation by Sarah van Steenderen

Students lying around in the sun on the steps of the Academy building isn’t all that weird. The signs they’re holding, though, are a little odd ‘SEX. Now that I have your attention, let’s talk about climate’ and: ‘Why do we study for a future that we don’t even have?’ 

Protestors are draped all over each other, limbs akimbo, playing dead. It’s a hassle for people wanting to enter the building. Passers-by are surprised by the spectacle and take pictures.

The ‘dead’ students are participating in a ‘die-in’, organised by Extinction Rebellion. ‘This is what happens if we continue to treat our planet the way we do!’ one student yells through a megaphone.

Carbon neutrality

‘We want the RUG to take a clear stance when it comes to climate change’, the protesters say. ‘It should be part of every curriculum: the RUG should aim to be carbon neutral in 2025.’

Spokesperson Maran Dieruff realises the demand is strict. ‘But we’re in crisis, and nobody is taking it seriously. They just think it can’t be all that bad.’

Isn’t the Green Office at the RUG doing enough? ‘They’ve come a long way’, Dieruff says, but he insists there is more work to do. ‘They [the Green Office] actually published a thirty-page report about everything they can do to improve.’


Die-ins have proven to be very effective in the past, says organiser Forrest Kentwell. ‘In the eighties, people held die-ins to protest for safer traffic regulations for cyclists. It’s clear from the sheer number of cycling paths today that they succeeded.’

Kentwell also thinks die-ins are a good way to show what happens if we don’t start fighting climate change soon.

But onlookers have their doubts. ‘I mean, it’s a strong statement. But I’m not sure it’ll actually help’, one passer-by remarks. ‘They’re hard to miss, though.’

‘Are they wearing sunscreen?’ another onlooker wonders. ‘That girl’s face is getting really red!’

‘It’s indoctrination in higher education!’ another person yells, laughing.


‘A single organisation or a single country can’t do very much’, ecology and evolution student Rob Venderbos says, ‘but if we band together we can make a change.’ It’s his first die-in.

‘Climate change has already killed people. The changing weather confuses farmers in Africa, which means they don’t know when to plant their crops. That has led to famines. And what do you think has been causing all these floods lately?’


23 April 2019 | 30-4-2019, 15:29