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Rutgers celebrates Earth Day with viewings, activities

<p>Photo Illustration | Different student groups recognized Earth Day with a week’s worth of activities, which included clean-up events to remove litter.</p>

Photo Illustration | Different student groups recognized Earth Day with a week’s worth of activities, which included clean-up events to remove litter.

Leading up to Earth Day, organizations at Rutgers held different events as a part of the RU Earth Week Festival.

Each day, different environmental clubs hosted an event such as a film screening, trail clean up or game night.

Students for Environmental Awareness (SEA) screened two of their films during the week.

One of the films, “Antarctic Edge: 70° South,” is a film directed by Dena Seidel, a former filmmaker at Rutgers, and co-produced by Xenia Morin, a senior associate dean of the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station and the National Science Foundation.

Ashley Sidhu, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences senior and vice president of SEA, discussed the film and the Earth Week festivities. 

“The film discusses research in Antarctica, conducted by a team of researchers many of whom included Rutgers faculty staff,” she said.

The club featured a second film focusing on the solar industry, called "Catching the Sun." It is a documentary discussing the solar industry’s socioeconomic impact, she said.

The film focuses on how poverty stricken people can positively benefit with increased solar power in the country because it can promote lots of job growth as well as the international implications of the solar industry, she said.

“(The Earth Week festival) was meant to be a week of awareness for the student body to learn about issues that the planet is currently facing, and solutions to it as well,” she said. “We wanted to open up a platform for discussion on environmental problems, so this was meant to engage the student population. “

On Earth Day itself, many environmental clubs came together to organize a march from Douglass campus to the College Avenue campus. The march was a collaboration between the Rutgers Veg Society, the Rutgers Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign and SEA.

Alexander Toke, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences senior and president of the Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign, said the club has been organizing marches through New Brunswick for Earth Day for many years now. 

“It’s kind of a call to action for not only the University to make good on its promises to become more sustainable, but also calling on the Rutgers community and New Brunswick community to get more involved in environmental issues and develop an understanding of how people’s actions affect the world around them,” he said.

He hopes that it will get people out of their comfort zone and more involved in activities, “because there’s certainly a shortage of activism on campus,” he said.

“There are a whole range of actions people could take and many of the marchers had particular motivations about what they wanted to raise awareness on," he said. "For me, it was about making sure people get more included and involved.”

Rachel DiSciullo, a School of Arts and Sciences senior and treasurer of the Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign, was one of the main organizers of the Earth Day march. She said the march is a way of connecting with the students.

“Even though we have been working with the University a lot, we didn’t want to lose touch with the students and the community. We wanted to remind everyone we’re still here and we’re still committed to the cause,” she said.

She also added that Earth week was a really good time for all the environmental groups on campus to come together and support each other's campaigns.

Many students are not aware of the advocacy work being done on campus, she said. The marchers hope to gain attention by marching passed classes and around campus. One of their main goals is to attract people who are not normally involved but would like to do something.

Rutgers is a environmentally conscious and very sustainable public university and is one of the top producers of solar energy of universities across the world, she said, but she still encourages students to work on the next big step.

“Having every student see us and see what we’re protesting for is really important in terms of getting people together,”she said. “We have a thousand signatures on our petition for fossil fuel divestment and that only happens because of things like this.”

Madhuri Bhupathiraju is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student majoring in cell biology and neuroscience. She is a correspondent for The Daily Targum. Follow her on Twitter @madhuri448 for more.

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