Protest event For universities without coal barons, February 16, 2023, Prague.
Prague – Dozens of university students in Prague protested against the cooperation and partnership of some universities and their faculties with entrepreneurs Daniel Křetínský and Pavel Tykač. The protest was organized by the University's student movement for the climate. Protesting people demand that universities and faculties end cooperation with businessmen who own energy companies. According to representatives of the movement, these are, for example, the Faculty of Law (PrF) of Charles University (UK) in Prague and Masaryk University (MU) in Brno and Prague's Czech University of Technology (ČVUT).
“Partnerships between universities and the fossil fuel industry at a time of serious climate crisis are extremely irresponsible and contrary to the values that universities declare. Universities must serve the public interest and stand behind the scientific knowledge that warns us of the climate crisis. Not to improve the image or educate lawyers for dirty fossil industry, which is the main cause of the climate crisis and sabotages its solution,” said representatives of the University for Climate movement.
The movement called the protest in front of the Bethlehem Chapel at a time when university rectors, politicians and academics were meeting in these spaces. They came to the ceremonial gathering for the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Czech Conference of Rectors. About 30 people took part in the protest. Some of them had banners with inscriptions calling for the end of cooperation with energy companies and their representatives.
The PrF of MU cooperates with the Energy and Industry Holding (EPH) of the billionaire Křetínský, while the holding helps the faculty with financing the teaching of energy law. Křetínský is also listed among the partners of PrF UK. According to the movement, CTU cooperates with businessman Tykač, who owns the company Sev.en.
Regarding MU's cooperation with EPH, the student movement wrote an open letter calling for the partnership to end. According to representatives of the movement, about 250 students and graduates of the school have signed it so far. It bothers them that EPH, as an operator of lignite power plants, has a negative effect on the climate, and they called the company one of the “dirtiest fossil companies in Europe”. They are also concerned that the financial contributions of the holding may affect the independence of the faculty. The dean of the MU PrF Martin Škop said in January that without money from the EPH, it would probably not be possible to maintain the energy law department at the MU PrF in the long term in its current scope. does not cooperate with the company. “JUDr. Daniel Křetínský donated the sum of CZK 300,000 to our faculty in 2019 to support the field of Roman law. It was a one-time sponsorship with no form of further cooperation,” said ČTK today.
Celebrations on the occasion According to the organizers, the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Czech Rectors' Conference will be attended, among others, by Senate President Miloš Vystrčil (ODS), Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS) and ministers Helena Langšádlová (TOP 09) and Vladimír Balaš (STAN). The chairman of the Czech Rectors' Conference and MU Rector Martin Bareš and CTU Rector Vojtěch Petráček will also be present.