Today, everyone finds something about something everywhere, and opinions fly around you. What is the Nijmegen student’s point of view on current issues? Members of the Radboud student panel give their views on the matter in Het Studentenstandpunt. This time: smearing art for the climate.
Paul (20), bachelor’s student in political science and law
“I think a good climate policy must be pursued, but I cannot agree with these actions. It is unacceptable for people to try to destroy an object. Protesters must stay within the bounds of the law, because we set those boundaries for a reason. The paintings that are affected are difficult to replace and the impact that the actions can have is great. People attach emotional value to the paintings. The works of art are part of a country’s identity. If they are destroyed, it can be difficult for many people.
In addition, these climate actions have the opposite effect. Society as a whole must follow the measures that the government must take to deal with climate change. But these actions make people feel distant from climate issues. The group that supports these actions feels empowered, but the group that is less positive about climate policy reacts more negatively. So society is polarized. In addition, I see that talk shows are only about the actions and not about the substantive story. There is attention in the media, but this attention is only about the act itself.’
Marije (21), bachelor’s student in political science
“I think the actions are good and hope they ensure that climate positions are put more on the agenda. It is still too recent to say definitively that the activists are succeeding, but they are being invited to talk shows and the news. A lot of people watch these shows, so I think it’s going to be a more important political issue in the coming years. There is currently not enough attention paid to climate change, even though it is an important issue. It’s about the future of my generation, so there can be more pressure on it. I think the people who resist are often people who will no longer be around in thirty years. They often don’t realize how big this problem is.
I have the impression that the image of these acts of painting is negative, while it is a peaceful form of protest. I think this is due to political influences in the news. News business executives realize they are playing politics. Perhaps they think that their news will be perceived as government criticism if they give a positive connotation to these climate actions. It can embarrass them, making them more prone to negative publicity. ‘
Pjotr (22), graduate student Particle and astrophysics and Philosophy of the Natural and Life Sciences
“I think it’s important that people protest for the climate, but I don’t think this way of campaigning is tactical. I have no problem with the act itself as the damage to the paintings is zero. Some people may not have been able to see a painting, but core tasks in society such as aid were not prevented.
The acts of painting do get attention, but it is inherently not good. The attention must also serve a purpose. The actions do not have any specific requirement or goal for the requirement to be fulfilled. This makes it difficult to discuss the demands of the protest. It is therefore tempting to talk about the way to protest and whether it is legitimate, rather than about the goal of the protest. I think actions like the blockade of private planes at Schiphol work better. At that protest, the demands and the goal were clear: Schiphol must not expand further. I think that’s why at that protest there was more attention to the demands the protesters were making. Because action groups have limited resources, they can better use them for such actions.’
Isa (22), bachelor’s student in sociology
‘When I first saw these campaigns a few years ago, I was positive. I think it is important that we fight the climate crisis, and I also feel the need to change things. The consequences of the climate crisis affect a large number of people worldwide, especially those who do not have the means to survive.
However, I believe these actions are backfiring. People do not realize that there is glass in front of the paintings, as a result of which the actions have gained a negative connotation in the society. The activists are invited to talk shows, but I feel they are invited because they are doing something crazy that has been in the news and not because of the message they want to convey. The conversation is no longer about the climate, but about the way to protest. Extreme attention must be paid to the climate, but I am more in favor of diplomatic ways of campaigning such as writing letters, creating petitions or demonstrating in the streets.’
Want to read more student opinions? You can find them here.