Student organizations come together to partake in Rutgers Earth March
On Friday, student organizations dedicated to addressing climate change and sustainability met on the steps of Brower Commons for the annual Rutgers Earth March.
The march was organized primarily by Students for Environmental Awareness with the help of other environmentally-focused groups such as Rutgers Veg Society, Rutgers Student Environmental Coalition, RU Progressive, the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group (NJPIRG) and Students for Environmental and Energy Development.
Dan Chulak, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences junior, participated in and promoted the march. As a member of the Rutgers University Student Assembly’s Sustainability Task Force, he said the march was significant to him.
“I think it’s really important for us to show our support for environmental stewardship and sustainability here at Rutgers University,” he said. “There’s a lot that we can do here at Rutgers to improve our standing in terms of sustainability in the Big (Ten) and in the country, and we think that by bringing a large group of students together we will have a larger platform and a louder voice for sustainability.”
Chulak said that by having multiple environmentalist student organizations collaborate, they are able to organize the march more effectively.
“I think it went really well. We got a lot of people here. As we were walking, we got a lot of people looking at us and seeing what we are doing and it just gives us a larger platform and allows Rutgers students to see what we’re doing and how passionate students are about the environment,” he said.
Chulak said that he wants to see the creation of an Office of Sustainability at the University.
“We think that (an Office of Sustainability) is key because right now they have a committee, but they don’t have full-time employees dedicated to sustainability,” he said. “Many schools within the Big (Ten) conference already have something like this, so we believe if Rutgers does this it would establish their commitment to sustainability and fighting against environmental injustice.”
Students for Environmental Awareness is working on multiple environmental initiatives, Chulak said, including movie screenings and events to unify students for their cause.
“Within RUSA we have a Sustainability Task Force where we have been researching extensively the structure of the University here at Rutgers and then around the country, so we are advocating for changes,” he said. “Change is happening all around us and we just have to embrace the progress and move towards more sustainable practices.”
Kathleen Parrish, an events coordinator for Students for Environmental Awareness and founding member of the Rutgers Student Environmental Coalition, said that her organization aims to coordinate student efforts for the environment.
“The march is really important because environmental issues impact people no matter who they are, what they do, where they go or where they live,” the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences sophomore said.
Students for Environmental Awareness also holds activism campaigns, environmental education workshops and volunteer efforts, Parrish said.
“A lot of times people are worried about marches only having an impact in the moment, but I think they have a more lasting impact when you use them as a way to spark interest in a cause,” she said.
Parrish said that Rutgers is doing a lot of good for the environment, but that there needs to be more well-coordinated initiatives and more widespread educational awareness regarding the issue.
“I think if we had an Office of Sustainability it could kind of coordinate everything that’s going on and push the school to be more sustainable,” she said.
Parrish said that she was satisfied with the march’s success.
“It went really well and people seemed hopeful. There’s a lot of really overwhelming things going on,” she said. “The news can be overwhelming and the whole idea of climate change is overwhelming, but you get a bunch of people together and you can hope to create a solution to something.”
Stephen Weiss is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in philosophy. He is an associate news editor for The Daily Targum.