Students participate in historic Climate March
All Brian Fitzpatrick ’15 of Tewksbury, Mass., could see for miles ahead of and behind him was a mass of people.
In New York City on Sept. 21 to participate in “The People’s Climate March,” Fitzpatrick – along with environmental studies professor Dr. Dan Shustack and five other students from MCLA’s Students for a Democratic Society and Environuts clubs – were among the enormous crowd that made their way through city streets as heads of state prepared to gather for a historic summit on climate change.
“I wanted to be part of an effort showing the people in power that we are prepared to replace them if they keep up destroying our environment,” Fitzpatrick said. “It was incredible.”
“It made me feel very connected with the world and everyone in it,” said Jonathan Saloio ’17 of Chester, Mass.
The highlight, said Saloio, came after a minute of silence for all those who have been affected by climate change.
“At the end of it, a wave of sound and voices came rushing forward from the very back of the procession and traveled all the way to the front. That moment gave me chills. It was so wonderful,” Saloio said.
According to Shustack, “There’s real value for students in standing for something they believe in, and feeling that each small step they can make is part of a larger whole.”
While several hundreds of thousands of marchers participated in New York City, other people were taking part in some 2,646 additional climate marches in 150 countries, making it the largest climate march effort in history.
According to “B” Gaudet ’15 of Worcester, Mass., who organized the trip, it was important that MCLA was represented in the effort, which included thousands of college students.
“Climate change is going to seriously impact the generations to come, and, for the love of everyone, we need to create the world that we want to live in. We need to be the change that we want to see in the world,” Gaudet said.
“It's important to participate in events like this because it affects our lives, and because democracy means more than voting for a president. Democracy means participation, and freedom means action,” Gaudet continued. “Every person’s impact is important.”
As they marched, some played drums, and others chanted or held up signs. Video screens mounted overhead showed images of other marches that were happening throughout the world.
“The idea was to make noise and share some phrases calling for some kind of change and movement on climate,” Shustack said.
“The planet we rely on is being very swiftly and efficiently destroyed,” Fitzpatrick said. “There are simple solutions that can be implemented to control climate change and rampant consumerism. Those solutions are not being implemented.”
“I believe we have a responsibility to take action,” Saloio said. “I grew up surrounded by woods, and so I spent lots of time there as a child. This helped me develop a profound love for nature. I want my children and my children’s children to not only to be able to grow up in a livable world, but also to enjoy nature as I have.
The event marked Saloio’s first involvement with activism.
“This was really a great experience for me. I think the greatest thing about it probably was just knowing that I was united with so many people for a common cause. It made me feel very connected with the world and everyone in it.”