AU students organize climate strike on global climate strike day
Sunrise AU brought over 100 protestors to the streets of DC
Hundreds of American University students and local activists marched from the White House to the Capitol building on March 25, chanting “the Earth is on fire” as they protested President Joe Biden’s handling of climate change policy.
“We really want to hold Biden accountable for his promises that he's made about climate change,” said Lauren Gygax, a freshman in the School of Public Affairs and a Sunrise AU member. “He promised over a year ago to cut emissions by 50 percent by 2030, but he has not made any actions to follow through with these words, and we are asking him at this strike to call this … a climate emergency.”
The 700 global strikes were organized under the theme “People Not Profit” to emphasize how the world’s richest nations prioritize economic gains over mitigating carbon emissions. With growing fears that the Earth will surpass the 1.5-degree benchmark for irreversible climate consequences, D.C. students and activists across the country alike made their displeasure clear from the start of the march.
The strike began at Lafayette Square outside the White House, with various college students, high school students and local activists speaking about the importance of implementing climate policy to address the climate crisis before it’s too late. The speeches were followed by chants and songs.
Waving signs high in the air, attendees shouted “no more coal no more oil, keep that carbon in the soil.” Chants of “climate justice” and “1.5 is still alive” continued as protestors marched down Pennsylvania Avenue to the front of the Capitol building.
Jamie Minden, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences and the community team lead for Sunrise AU, said protesting in front of the White House and the Capitol was symbolic of holding the legislative and executive branches accountable.
“It's important that we're sort of bringing attention to the fact that we have … the Senate, the presidency and the House in Democratic control right now,” said Minden, who is also an organizer with Fridays for Future DC. “They made a lot of promises, and they've not followed through on any of them.
Around 60 AU students signed up for the strike using QR codes on flyers placed around campus, Gygax said. More AU students attended than the 60 who registered, Minden said, and 60 high school organizers brought additional students from local high schools to attend the strike.
Lillian Wellwood, a sophomore in the School of Communication, attended the strike to call politicians to action. She said she wants a future she can look forward to without having to worry about the consequences of climate change.
“This is notifying our policymakers that this is a big issue,” Wellwood said. “This is for everyone's future, and especially our generation. We're going to be alive when these issues are very serious … and we can't just sit by and just hope that this is going to change, we know that our actions are having consequences.”
Timothy Farrelly, a sophomore in the School of International Studies, said he was striking to protest against corrupt corporations and, like Wellwood, to protect his future.
“We're here to stand up to corrupt countries, corrupt corporations who are profiting off of exploitation, through capitalism, imperialism,” Farrelly said. “We're here to protect Indigenous lands and just protect the planet for future generations.”
Plans for Sunrise AU and Fridays for Future DC include involving more clubs at AU and engaging in broader community discussions about climate activism.
“We're hoping to get more traction on campus and get more involvement with other clubs because there's so much intersectionality between [the] climate crisis and a lot of issues that clubs on campus are talking about,” Minden said. “So this is just the beginning.”