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NEW YORK, NY—On Sunday September 21, approximately 150 Rutgers students traveled to New York City to attend the People’s Climate March, a demonstration calling for environmental reform and to raising awareness of the climate change problem.
The students added to the roughly 400,000 others in attendance in New York City on that Sunday, making it the largest environmental protest in history.
The Rutgers group gathered on the front steps of the New Brunswick train station prior to the march and listened to speeches from leaders in the movement in preparation for the event.
Among those who spoke was Professor David Hughes, a Professor of Ecology from Rutgers University and Jim Walsh, the Mid-Atlantic Region Director of the Food and Water Watch.
When the time came, the Rutgers contingent boarded a train that took them to New York Penn Station and from there walked several blocks until they found a point at which to merge into the march.
Throughout the entire march, the Rutgers students proved to be of the loudest and most enthusiastic marchers. With chants such as “Show me what democracy looks like, this is what democracy looks like!” and renditions of songs like Bob Marley’s “One Love” and Sublime’s “What I got,” the Rutgers students were never short on something to say.
Leaders of the Rutgers faction included Rutgers seniors Shane Patel and Francine Glaser.
Glaser, a member of the Rutgers University Student Assembly, commented, “I thought it was a very powerful representation of how greatly people care about the wellness of our planet, the health of our societies, and the progress that is being made around the country and globe.
“There was a turn out of nearly 400,000 for a reason – people care a lot.”
Glaser said she thinks the march will have a positive impact on environmental policy: “I think our legislators will be more inclined to produce responsible climate policy, or at least less detrimental policy. We will finally see some movement on this uphill battle.”
Shane Patel is the President of the Rutgers Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign, which is dedicated to persuading Rutgers to end its investments in oil and gas industrty. Patel said he thinks the march will help convince more people to join the cause.
Patel said, “I think the biggest impact it will have is less so in directly affecting policy, but as a wake up call to individuals who believe in the need for climate action, but thought the fight was doomed because of the circumstances at hand, specifically the power and momentum carried by the fossil fuel industry.”
“I think the march was an indication that people power might actually triumph over fossil fuels, which I hope inspires people to take action and agitate for change within local communities.”
Many high-profile environmentalists such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Bill McKibbon. Jane Goodall, and Vandana Shiva marched along with politicians including US Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D- R.I.), Bernie Sanders (I-V.T.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), as reported by The Huffington Post.
Vice President Al Gore, U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-moon, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also attended and marched in the action.
The march lasted approximately two miles and ended in Times Square, where a huge block party was held to celebrate the action.