Members of Green GW participated for the first time in the “Global Climate Strike” as part of a group effort to engage in more environmental activism.
Green GW joined other student organizations Friday at the second-ever Global Climate Strike, part of the student-led “Fridays for Future” protest movement to push governments across the globe to take decisive action on climate change. Members of Green GW said their participation in the protest demonstrates their solidarity with younger climate activists and engages their members in more environmental activism efforts.
“As a college student, you don’t usually feel like you can have these opportunities to make some sort of difference or to get your voice out there,” sophomore Dharma Gonzalez-Ferrette, the co-president of Green GW, said.
She said 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg – who led the Fridays for Future movement – inspired her and other Green GW members to take part in the protests and advocate for environmental policy change.
Amnesty International awarded Thunberg and members of the Fridays for Future movement the 2019 Ambassador of Conscience Award at an event in Lisner Auditorium Monday.
At the march, protesters chanted phrases like “Use your power” and “Show me what democracy looks like” and held signs reading “What part of existential crisis don’t you get?” and “Act now, or we will all be climate refugees.” The protesters began the strike at John Marshall Park and marched to the U.S. Capitol.
“We wanted all our members and all the new members to be able to have a chance to do something a little bigger than just coming to the general body meeting,” Gonzalez-Ferrette said.
Green GW hosted an event in Kogan Plaza earlier Friday morning that featured speakers, like Rabbi Dan Epstein from GW Hillel and students from organizations like GW College Democrats, who talked about the importance of environmental activism, according to the Green GW Instagram.
“It’s more of a community feeling when you go with all these people, and we’re having people who all share the same interest in the same goals that we want to strike for this, because we want to have a better future,” she said.
Junior Riya Gavaskar, the co-president of Green GW and a former Hatchet reporter, said part of the group’s decision to participate in the climate strike came from Green GW members’ interest in engaging in more environmental activism. She said Green GW aims to incorporate everyone’s interests into the programs the organization promotes.
Gavaskar said Green GW members are older than many of the young climate activists at the vanguard of the Fridays for Future movement, but she and other members wanted to contribute to protesting efforts, given that climate change will affect them in the future too.
“Climate change isn’t something that’s just going to affect them, and they are going to unfortunately experience a lot of the severe consequences of inaction – but it’s our responsibility as well,” she said.
Senior Jarryd Rauch, the senior adviser for Green GW, said the organization invited other student organizations in addition to environmentally oriented organizations because climate change will eventually affect everyone.
“The climate crisis is going to affect all of us eventually, and probably sooner rather than later,” he said. “We just wanted to give everyone the chance to get involved in this strike, regardless of their political affiliation and regardless of what they do on campus.”
Rauch said Green GW previously focused on educating members about how to adopt sustainable lifestyle practices. He said he wants to emphasize the importance of assuming an activist role in advocating for stronger environmental policies in addition to encouraging sustainable living.
“We also want to take a more active role in getting our community involved with pushing leaders to act on what we’re educating,” Rauch said. “That’s something new for our org this year that we’re definitely leaning more into.”