Tufts students travel to New York City to participate in the People's Climate March which aimed to raise awareness for climate issues on Sept. 21. Grace Cooper / The Tufts Daily

Tufts students join march to fight climate change

Over 100 Tufts students took to the streets to bring the fight for climate justice to New York City, joining throngs of demonstrators in the People’s Climate March on the morning of Sept. 21. The march, which coincided with the United Nations Climate Summit on Sept. 23, drew over 400,000 protesters, making it the single largest climate march in history.

Tufts Climate Action (TCA) helped to spearhead the effort to transport students to and from the rally and facilitate Jumbo involvement, but many Tufts students found out about the event on their own, according to TCA member Ben Weilerstein.

“There was not a lot of outreach on our part to tell people about [the rally] and make them interested in coming,” Weilerstein, a junior, said. “That kind of happened organically.”

Weilerstein, along with fellow TCA members junior Sarah Killian and sophomores Shana Gallagher and Henry Jacqz, rented two large buses through TCA, on which students then reserved spots. Gallagher discussed the importance of the event in the decision to organize Tufts students’ attendance.

“Nothing in history has ever changed without people having to take to the streets and really show how much they care about something, and so I would say the goal of the march was to try to make sure that the UN knows that,” Gallagher said. “Just because there hasn’t been action before doesn’t mean that there is not still a chance. We still have time. People from all over the world and all walks of life care about this.”

Both Gallagher and Weilerstein said they had already planned to attend the rally before TCA’s initiative, and both students said they were particularly struck by the juxtaposition between the sobering topic of climate change and all the positive energy the marchers brought to the protest.

“For me, and I think for Tufts Climate Action as a group, the goal was to build relationships and build power,” Weilerstein said. “When you take someone … to this massive, exciting event, it just energizes you, it inspires you.”

Ana Manriquez Prado, who took part in the march, said that the event helped bring together people with similar beliefs.

“I had been to other marches before … but at Tufts, [the march] was the first big thing that I participated in,” Manriquez Prado, a freshman, said. “It definitely gave me a sense of community, because all the people that went had the same goals.”

Going forward, Weilerstein said that he hopes to capitalize on the momentum created by the march to create greater on-campus involvement.

“The People’s Climate March just happened, but the People’s Climate March starts right now,” he said. “This is now when we start marching or keep marching because … we filled the streets of New York City and climate change didn’t end. This is totally the time to harness all of the intense excitement and energy that everyone felt.”

Director of the Environmental Studies Program and Professor of Biology Colin Orians underscored the importance of attracting attention to global climate change.

“So much is about politics and willingness to stand up and make a change,” Orians said. “Getting it to be mainstream and not something that is just on the fringes is really important.”

Gallagher said that she is ready for Tufts to assume its responsibility in terms of sustainability.

“There are just a lot of local organizations that are working on environmental justice and environmental racism issues, and a lot of people that are in Tufts Climate Action are passionate about those,” she said. “We are investing in Tufts, and Tufts should be investing in our future and not profiting from these destructive industries, so I think Tufts’ administration and students have a responsibility to try and use some of that leverage.”

2 Responses

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  1. Jim Corcoran
    Sep 30, 2014 - 07:36 AM

    With 60 BILLION food animals on the planet, this should be our first step in the Climate March!
    http://meatonomics.com/

    “As environmental science has advanced, it has become apparent that the human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future: deforestation, erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities, and the spread of disease.” Worldwatch Institute, “Is Meat Sustainable?”

    “If every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetables and grains… the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads.” Environmental Defense Fund

    “A 1% reduction in world-wide meat intake has the same benefit as a three trillion-dollar investment in solar energy.” ~ Chris Mentzel, CEO of Clean Energy

    There is one single industry destroying the planet more than any other. But no one wants to talk about it… http://cowspiracy.com

    Step by Step Guide: How to Transition to a Vegan Diet http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-food/step-by-step-guide-how-to-transition-to-vegan-diet/

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