On Friday, Sept. 20, students, faculty and community members alike gathered on and below the steps of Rosse Hall to protest against climate inaction and injustice.
According to the Environmental Campus Organization (ECO), the student organization that planned the event, “our decision to host an event on campus is motivated by our passion to support the goals of the global campaign, as well as demand climate action from the Kenyon administration.” The event coincided with the Global Climate Strike inspired by youth climate activist Greta Thunberg, which spread throughout over 3,500 cities, campuses and organizations internationally.
Over 15 student groups joined the protest, creating displays and handing pamphlets to attendees with information about different elements of climate justice. Political associations, such as Kenyon Democrats and Young Democratic Socialists of America, distributed information about Democratic candidate platforms and the Green New Deal. The Kenyon Farm and the Rural Cause encouraged attendees to consider the impact of climate change on the rural communities surrounding Kenyon, including food access, economy and policy. Other organizations such as UCapture, which aims to make Kenyon a carbon-neutral campus, and Alpha Sigma Tau, which provided tips for making student events sustainable, focused on Kenyon-specific issues. Both the African Students Association and Kenyon Sin Fronteras pointed out the disproportional effects of climate change on communities of color.
“I feel like this is a really amazing event because we’re addressing all different facets of climate change, anyone who’s being impacted by it,” Johanna Fickel ’21, a founding member of Kenyon Sin Fronteras, said. “We’re actually talking about the real human consequences, and things like environmental racism, and how this will impact our lives and the lives of our children and grandchildren. This is really important work that I’m really glad Kenyon’s taken under its wing now.”
Persimmons and HIKA hosted a write-in alongside the strike where attendees could document their reactions to the information presented. A clothesline of poems, letters and thoughts stretched along the sidewalk. Some expressed action-focused hopes, such as one attendee who wrote: “I want to, if not reverse, then prevent the worst of climate change.” Others criticized Kenyon students’ reactions to climate change: “Isn’t it absurd how we’re all just kind of getting college degrees in the middle of a mass extinction event?”
Additional cosponsors included Beekeeping Club, Outdoors Club, Active Students Helping the Earth Survive (ASHES) and the Crow’s Nest. Events continued after the strike, including an environmentally themed game night hosted by Tabletop Club, a Kenyon Interfaith Partnership Climate Vigil and a presentation from a visiting speaker about the possibilities of solar energy.