A group of 15 GW students joined about 200 protesters on the Ellipse Wednesday, holding signs and calling President George W. Bush the “toxic Texan” and the “polluter-in-chief,” at the Greenpeace-sponsored “Take Back the Earth Day” rally. Later in the day GW students celebrated Earth Day in Kogan Plaza.
Groups from University of Maryland, Virginia Tech, American and Georgetown universities also joined the rally, said Meghan Conklin, Greenpeace student organizing director.
“We’re (protesting) because George W. Bush has really awful environmental policies,” said senior Jessica Frohman, president of GW student environmentalist group Free the Planet!.
Other students said they joined the Ellipse protest to send a message to Bush about his environmental policies.
“I don’t agree with (Bush) abandoning the Kyoto Protocol, especially without further negotiation about carbon emissions,” junior Jennifer MacDonald said. “And I don’t want him drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.”
About a dozen speakers discussed environmental issues and Bush’s policies at the rally. Denis Hayes, chairman of the Earth Day Network and organizer of the first Earth Day in 1970, said the first event had a positive impact on America.
“We changed the way America does business,” Hayes said. “And now, Bush, three months into his administration, is with no regrets the most anti-environmental president in history.”
Free the Planet! hosted its second-annual Earth Day celebration in Kogan Plaza Wednesday. Among organizations present were Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, the Feminist Majority, Scooter Commuter and Ecopledge.
Frohman said one of the key components of Wednesday’s celebration was the introduction of the new Ecopledge Targets program, in which people sign a petition stating that they will not work for a company they deem environmentally unfriendly.
Ecopledge members will ask Dell to collect and recycle its old computers, request that Staples sell more recycled products and push Sprint to print phone bills on recycled paper, according to members at the event.
Frohman said she was pleased with the turnout of the event.
“We had a big rush at noon, and then it slowed down,” Frohman said. “Channel 5 News came to cover it, which was great.”