Photo by Antonio Pequeño IV
Waves of students and activists marched in solidarity with the Global Climate Strike, a movement that has seen immense mobilization and support since its start on Sept. 20.
The Global Climate Strike runs until Sept. 27 and according to globalclimatestrike.net, the strike, “is a joint response by a broad coalition of groups, NGOs, unions and social movements across the world to young people’s call to action for September.” Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, has acted as an inspirational figurehead for the global movement.
CSUSM’s Environmental Stewards Association (ESA) organized the Sept.24 protest that saw more than 200 participants march across sections of campus. The march snaked between the Social & Behavioral Sciences Building, Chavez Plaza and Kellogg Plaza.
From large, colorful signs to booming chants and cheering, the protestors garnered substantial attention from students and faculty during the entirety of U-Hour.
President of the ESA, Lindsey Cain, said, “We hope to show people that change needs to be made for our Earth to survive. Change can be made through living a more sustainable lifestyle and voting for new propositions or environmentally friendly candidates in the upcoming 2020 election. We want people to know that we will not stop until our voices are heard and the system is changed.”
Cain and Estefania Fraticelli, an ESA sustainability officer, led the march through chanting and an intermittent set of speeches that addressed the goals of the strike.
“This is definitely one of the largest and most engaged student demonstrations and it’s great to see students using their voices [for] something they’re so passionate about,” said Margaret Chantung, CSUSM’s associate vice president for communication. At its peak attendance, the marching line of protesters stretched around from Kellogg Plaza to the front of the USU.
Commenting on the protest’s turnout, Cain said, “This is super meaningful to me because I did this last semester and only had ten people… ten of my friends show up.”
This time around, Cain and the ESA had a significant amount of support from on and off-campus entities. Ben Plackemeir, a member of climate advocacy group, the Sunrise Movement, met Cain through the ESA last year and helped organize the strike by acquiring support from the Sunrise Movement and other associations.
“We’re a pretty democratic group, we don’t try and lead from the top. The San Diego hub is [somewhat] autonomous. We get to do what we need to do around the county but we’re also taking campaign direction from the national movement,” said Karl Aldinger, a hub organizer for the San Diego chapter of the Sunrise Movement.
Members of the Sunrise Movement wielded three large banners which collectively worded “Green New Deal” in bold black letters that complimented the sea of signs and posters. The Green New Deal aims to tackle economic inequality and climate change through renewable energy sources and resource allocation.
Cain said, “The protesters who are not students at CSUSM are from various environmental non-profit organizations throughout the United States including the Sierra Club and Surfrider Foundation. These people were organized through the connections with the Sunrise Movement…”
Bolstering the ranks of the protest were employees from Dr. Bronner’s, a Vista-based soap company that specializes in organic personal care products. “The company reached out to me in regards to joining the protest and providing transportation to their 250 employees. At first, I was hesitant to allow them all to join the protest given our small campus but soon realized that this will enhance our message and the support for climate action,” said Cain.
“[It] went so well. I’m surprised I didn’t start crying at some points because there were so many people here. Like I said, [we only had] 10 people last year,” said Cain. The organizing process of the protest, which took about two months to organize, was in Cain’s words, “worth every second.”
Moving forward, the Sunrise Movement will talk to ESA members about the specifics of the Green New Deal as a means taking further steps to enact political change for climate issues. The ESA meets every other Tuesday in SBSB 1107 and can be contacted through their Instagram, @csusm_esa.