Hundreds of Hamilton students joined their counterparts around the world to participate in the Global Climate Strike on Sept. 20. Organized by representatives from a number of student groups, Hamilton’s climate strike attracted droves of students and Hamilton community members calling for action on environmental issues. The event also included performances from a cappella groups, and student and faculty speakers whose messages focused on a theme of urgency and hope.
“It is our responsibility as college students to use the knowledge that has been bestowed upon us to seek out government intervention, to promote awareness on the severity of the climate crisis, and to change the daily practices that perpetuate the everlasting and harmful effects on our ecosystem,” said Juasline Plasencia ’23.
Plasencia, a Posse scholar from Miami, spoke about the effects climate change has had in her home community and the impacts it has had on traditionally marginalized groups. Plasencia was not alone in sharing this message. Professor of Government Peter Cannavo, students Eric Stenzel ’23, Sapphire Ruiz ’22, and Student Assembly President and Vice President Amanda Kim ’21 and Jiin Jeong ’21, respectively, also spoke about the need for categorical climate justice.
We have an incredible opportunity at Hamilton, as an educational institution, to teach and train the next generations.
In the past 12 years, Hamilton has reduced its carbon footprint by 37% and has committed to achieving carbon neutrality by the year 2050. Director of Environmental Protection, Safety and Sustainability Brian Hansen spoke to Hamilton’s commitment to sustainability through the continued pursuance of environmental policies and opportunities for student involvement through experiential learning.
“When we build our buildings, invest green attributes like our wind and solar systems, and when we purchase equipment such as EnergyStar computers and a sustainable vehicle fleet, we make efforts to be as conscientious as possible,” he explained. “But it’s also about people. We have an incredible opportunity at Hamilton, as an educational institution, to teach and train the next generations.”
Chants of “Whose planet? Our planet!” followed the speeches, as hundreds of Hamilton students joined in and made their voices heard across campus. Brooke Kessler ’22 served as the event’s emcee, rallying students around the promise of continued action on environmental issues. “September 20 is just the beginning,” Kessler said. “We will carry our energy and passion into the 2020 elections and beyond — but we must treat this climate crisis like a crisis. Activism works, so act and continue to show up.”
Putting Sustainability Research Into Action
As a part of their summer summer sustainability internship, Emma Karsten ’18 and Olivia Shehan ’18 researched ways to both reduce Hamilton’s carbon generation and beautify the campus at the same time. One strategy they identified was to reduce certain acreage mowed by the College, by way of low mow zones and pollinator gardens.