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Hanley Sustainability Institute

Students call for personal action during climate strike

By Mark Gokavi

Organizers of the on-campus event to observe the Global Climate Strike Sept. 20 wanted their chants and written messages to turn into personal and transformative action.

“We aren’t just here holding up signs. We aren’t here just telling stories,” said organizer Jared Marsh, who is pursuing a bachelor's degree in human rights studies. “We’re here to start taking pledges, commitments, start making the change.”

Dozens of students, staff and faculty members near the fountain at Kennedy Union joined millions around the world in striking ahead of Monday’s U.N. Climate Action Summit. A checklist sign at UD’s event was entitled, “What Can I Do?”

After attending the strike, other items on the list involved taking a sustainability pledge, registering to vote, writing or signing a letter to government officials, listening to why speakers were striking, learning and supporting local businesses and turning a “personal narrative into a crafted message for climate justice.”

Speakers shared stories of plastic from the Midwest ending up in California ocean waters and said that everyone can take small or big steps to reduce their personal carbon footprint.

Executive directors Ben McCall of the Hanley Sustainability Institute and Shelley Inglis of the Human Rights Center issued a letter of support that included the strategic vision calling for UD to become The University for the Common Good.

“Climate change and environmental devastation pose an existential threat to human rights for all,” said the letter from McCall and Inglis. “The responsibility for the climate crisis lies primarily with the most developed countries, like the United States. But the impacts of climate change are felt most by the poorest and most vulnerable around the globe.

“Governments and other stakeholders have an affirmative obligation to take effective measures to prevent and redress climate impacts, and mitigate climate change, for the full realization of human rights.”

A faculty statement of support was signed by at least 88 people.

“Given that this emergency is clearly visiting our planet already at present with devastating effects, and ones that are impacting the least among us the most, it is up to all people everywhere to act,” the statement said. “Our challenge is thus to resist the combination of cynicism, political ineptitude/opportunism, and outright nihilism that will otherwise continue to allow the planet to be made dispensable by a production system and fossil fuel economy run amok.”

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