Wheaton participated in what was hailed as the “largest climate march in history” on Sunday, Sept. 21 in front of the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.
Dan Altman ’16 and Sara Mitsinikos ’15 of Outdoors Club helped to organize Wheaton’s participation in the event.
The People’s Climate March took place in response to an upcoming UN summit that will bring world leaders to New York City to discuss climate change. The march took place in order to show world leaders that there is a need for environmental change.
Sarah Estrela ’15, president of the Roosevelt Institute at Wheaton, agreed with the message.
“This [wasn’t] just a climate change awareness march — this [was] a march for climate justice,” she said.
Members of the Roosevelt Institute, the Student Government Association’s Green Initiatives Committee (GIC) and others interested were invited by Outdoors Club to participate.
“Before we got involved there were no interested students going [to the march] in an organized setting…so it’s good to get Wheaton involved,” Altman said.
Outdoors Club is not alone in thinking that climate change is a cause for concern, as there has been significant evidence that climate change is real and a major issue.
The planning of Wheaton’s participation in the event was quite challenging. Originally, Altman had planned on getting a bus to take fellow students to the march, but that plan was canceled when the organization that agreed to lend the club a bus ran out of funding. Instead, the students that attended did so using independent buses, trains, or cars.
Altman said that Wheaton is an especially hard school to organize events of this magnitude at, stating that his peers at other colleges did not have as much difficulty setting up transportation.
“There’s a lot of pretty swampish bureaucratic stuff that goes on here,” said Altman. “I’m sure it happens everywhere, but this experience has sort of reaffirmed the frustration that I’ve had making organized events possible at Wheaton.”
Despite the challenges that took place to get Wheaton students to the event, the impact of the march can potentially be a lasting one. “The best possible outcome is that leaders will recognize that policies have to change,” said Altman. “I think as students we are in a good place in our lives to spend time with issues that we care about.”
NASA reports that 10 out of the last 12 years have been the hottest in recorded history. The acidity of the ocean has increased by 30 percent since the Industrial Revolution, and the sea level is rising at a level that is double the rate it had in the previous century.
It was for these reasons that Mitsinikos and Altman decided to get involved with the People’s Climate March. “We went with the logic that if we enjoy being outdoors, we should try to show that we care about protecting it,” Altman said.