Wooster Environmental Justice Coalition is organizing the strike on Sep. 20 as a part of the Global Climate Strike movement
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On Friday, Sep. 20, a group of passionate students are bringing an international environmental movement to The College of Wooster campus.
“The climate crisis is an emergency that has already taken lives, destroyed ecosystems, and devastated public health,” said Lia Kahan ’22, president and founder of the Wooster Environmental Justice Coalition.
The Wooster Environmental Justice Coalition is organizing a strike as part of the Global Climate Strike Movement.
“The strike is a part of a desperate attempt to gain the attention of governments, public and private sectors worldwide, and alert them to the seriousness of the climate crisis,” Kahan stated.
The silent rally will take place on Friday, Sep. 20 from 11:05 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The Coalition is asking students, staff, faculty and community members to join them in walking out of classes and gathering at the Kauke Arch. At the Arch, there will be a brief rally featuring several student speakers. After the rally, the group will be led to Beall Ave., where participants will stand on both sides of the road.
“[S]tudent leaders will lead chants, and everyone will have the opportunity to call [upon] government representatives by using chalk on the sidewalks to express why they are striking,” said Kahan.
The strike happening in Wooster is part of a much larger international movement, known as the Global Climate Strike. The initiative was created by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg to raise awareness about the “climate emergency” and “demand an end to the age of fossil fuels,” according to the Global Climate Strike’s website. Throughout theworld, the climate strikes will take place on Sep. 20 and 27.
To organize the event, Kahan says the Coalition met with members of the administration, such as Dean of Students Scott Brown and President Sarah Bolton. According to Professor Matt Mariola, chair of the environmental studies department, Friday’s rally has been spearheaded and organized completely by students.
“To be honest with you, the event coming to our campus owes itself to the motivated students of the Environmental Justice Coalition,” said Mariola. “I am just riding their coattails! They are the ones that reached out to a number of faculty and administrators to inquire about the feasibility and logistics of holding the event. I have helped them with publicizing the event on campus.”
Mariola added that when he announced the strike at a recent faculty meeting, it was received positively.
Secretary of the Environmental Justice Coalition, Manasi Desai ’22, hopes the rally will unite students behind a common cause.
“I feel that this is a good opportunity for people to start discussing climate change and the environment outside of classrooms,” Desai stated. “This strike would also bring a sense of solidarity among the students because our generation will be facing the worst of climate change and we need to do something about it.”
Mariola believes that the climate emergency is an important issue for the Wooster community to be a part of.
“The national discourse on climate change is stuck in the Dark Ages,” Mariola stated. “Despite decades of evidence, report after report … there is still rampant climate denial in some quarters, or just ignorance in others. The College of Wooster features a very intellectually curious set of students, faculty and staff, so the point of bringing it to Wooster is not necessarily to nudge our own College — although there are certain bold things we could do, such as converting our electrical purchases to renewable sources, or installing geothermal wells to bring our own carbon footprint down or divesting from fossil fuel companies. These are tough choices, because they all would cost us more money. But I think the point of bringing the event to Wooster is less about nudging our own college and more about simply being part of this worldwide movement.”
Kahan also reminded the importance of speaking up against climate change. “Everyone is and will continue to be affected by climate change,” said Kahan. “We are the generation that is coming of age in this time of immense climate crises, and this is an opportunity to let it be known that we will not be silent or complicit. That we will advocate for ourselves, and for all of the communities disproportionately affected by climate change.”
If you would like to be a part of the rally, or discuss climate change and the environment outside of classrooms, you can contact Lia Kahan at LKahan22@wooster.edu, attend and make posters for the rally and spread the word amongst faculty, staff and students.