A student-led rally against climate change was held on Friday, Sept. 23 in front of Mead Hall. Elizabeth Blank (‘25), Elisabeth Sauerman (‘24), Jocelyn Freeman (‘25), Sophia Geiger (‘26) and Hailei Clark (‘23) organized the rally consisting of student and faculty speakers. The organizers also announced a list of demands for Drew University and taught student-led chants.
The students began the rally with a land acknowledgment for the Lenape and Munsee Tribes and addressed that Native Americans are disproportionately affected by climate change.
They also recognized all the key players in creating and organizing the rally, such as the Center for Civic Engagement helping to advertise the event and sponsoring the poster-making event prior to the rally. Other on-campus organizations that were involved in and spoke at the rally included the Drew Environmental Action League, the Racial Justice Committee and the Sustainability Committee.
Of the student speakers, Jen Arias (‘25), the representative of Drew Environmental Action League, spoke about environmentalism on campus. Chekwube Okunowo (‘24), from the Racial Justice Committee, spoke about the disproportionate effect of climate change on people of color. Other speakers included Dr. Jonathan Golden, who talked about intersectionality and building activism through classes at Drew University.
The rally also had a list of demands for Drew University: reestablish the Climate Action Plan to lay out steps for ecological conservation, carbon neutrality and energy efficiency on campus; create a sustainability plan; institute the Environmental Sustainability Council so students are heard and to prioritize environmental and social justice; include more transparency regarding the Drew Forest land sale and instill students’ values of climate and environmental justice in the search for Drew’s next president.
After the rally on campus, students went to New York City to join the Fridays for Future strike. Dr. Lisa Jordan received a grant to help pay for transportation to the city, and the students and staff marched to Battery Park, where Fridays for Future held the rally at Foley Square. Fridays for Future’s values of youth voice and advocacy were apparent in the student rally on Drew’s campus and resonated in the rally held in Battery Park. According to the strike statistics report found on Fridays for Future’s website, this global event included 160 thousand strikes in 232 countries with 18 million strikers total.
Overall, it is easy to see how Sept. 23 was a day when students used their voices and fought back against climate change.