BHC students protest climate inaction

Photo by Jacob Vaughn | Brookhaveans gather in the Commons Courtyard to call for action against climate change Sept. 23.

By Jacob Vaughn

Editor-in-Chief/ Music Editor

More than 4 million people took part in strikes around the world in an effort to sound an alarm about the climate crisis. Over 2,500 demonstrations were organized in over 150 countries on all seven continents, according to Vox. Brookhaven College students, staff and faculty stood in solidarity with these efforts with their own climate strike Sept. 23.

Brookhaveans gathered in the Commons Courtyard chanting, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, climate change has got to go!” and holding signs calling for climate action. Ricky Thielen, president of the Green Team Coalition, said, “We want every single government in the world to recognize that this is a problem that affects not just the youth that has been striking, but everyone.”

Stephanie Martinez, a student, chants, “Climate change has got to go,” during the climate strike.
Martinez high-fives another participant of the event.

Stephanie Martinez, a student, led many of the chants at the event. She said climate change is an important issue that everyone needs to know about. “People need to know the effects of [climate change] and everything that goes along with it,” she said. 

According to Vox, the global climate strikes were inspired by 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. The activist led a strike in New York City, where all 1.1 million of the city’s public school students were excused to attend the demonstration Sept. 20. David Griggs, adjunct professor, said, “[Thunberg] has galvanized this whole world movement for literally thousands of climate strikes all over the world, including in the United States.” 

Brookhaven’s event was organized by Thielen, Griggs and new director of sustainability Brandon Morton.

Ricky Thielen, Green Team Coalition president, directs students, staff and faculty during the demonstration.

Griggs said global events align with the United Nations’ Climate Action Summit in New York City. On the day of Brookhaven’s event, Thunberg gave a tearful plea to the world to address the climate crisis. The focus of the summit was to push countries to commit to more aggressive climate targets and transitions to renewable resources, according to Vox.  

Around the time Brookhaveans were calling for change on the homefront, Thunberg addressed world leaders in a speech about climate action that has since gone viral. Thunberg said: “People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth.”

Griggs said it is important for students to get involved in events such as Brookhaven’s climate strike. “Students need to know that they have these rights, and that they can participate and let their voices be known,” Griggs said. “It will help them to become better citizens.”

Students walk to the Commons Courtyard to participate in the demonstration.