Extinction Rebellion urge Exeter University to act on climate commitments

By Jacob Jaffa |

Student activists from Extinction Rebellion disrupted a busy Open Day by staging a ‘die-in’ on Penryn campus to protest the University of Exeter’s investment in fossil fuels.

Exeter University has divested from coal and tar sands but not other fossil fuels | Ella Clark @ellasdreamworld

The protestors were dressed in black, with black paint dripping from their hands “to symbolise the oil that the University of Exeter continues to invest in”, according to a press release.

Demonstrators marched to the Chapel Lecture theater, where they laid on the floor as if they had died, a method of protest commonly used by the environmentalist movement.

A Working Group is expected to recommend actions to the university’s executive body at the end of the month | Lucinda Parfett @lucinda_mae_photography

One participant, a student and member of ‘Falmouth Student XR’ called Ash, said: “The university could have stopped profiting from climate breakdown yesterday and fully divested from fossil fuels, like more than half of Russell Group universities have already.”

The group staged a further die-in outside the Exchange before marching in silence through to Tremough House, where their demonstration ended.

The action took place on one of Exeter’s Open Days, in front of potential students | Lucinda Parfett @lucinda_mae_photography

Witnesses of the protest, who spoke to the Anchor at the event, gave mixed responses. One prospective student, who was at the university on an Open Day, said that it shows “how passionate they [the protestors] are” about the environment.

Conversely, a group of current Falmouth University students said that they supported “the cause but not the method”. The students referenced the actions of XR in London this month, and said that they were “not sure of the effectiveness” of XR’s protest methods.

…Extinction Rebellion are widely acknowledged to have played a considerable role in influencing the government’s decision to declare a climate emergency…

Earlier this year, Exeter University declared a ‘climate emergency’, which means that the organisation has made a commitment to cease contributing to climate breakdown.

The Extinction Rebellion protestors claim that the university invests over £2 million in oil and gas companies through an investment management service.

Falmouth University and Cornwall Council have also made similar declarations, and Extinction Rebellion are widely acknowledged to have played a considerable role in influencing the government’s decision to declare a climate emergency this year, after mass civil disruption in April.

EDIT: This article originally stated that the University of Exeter invests money through investment manager J.P. Morgan, but it has later come to our attention that the university uses a different investment manager.