Faculty and students of SUNY New Paltz joined a protest held in New York City to speak out against the use of fossil fuels.
The March to End Fossil Fuels took place last month and was organized by a multitude of local and national organizations. Roughly 75,000 people gathered with picket signs and banners to march through the streets on the same day as the United Nations’ climate action summit in New York City.
The Office of Campus Sustainability at SUNY New Paltz provided anyone who was interested, free transportation to the event. Arthur Hodun, a junior with a major in early childhood education, is one of the activists from New Paltz who jumped on the chance to receive a free ride to the march. He became informed of the event at the campus’ market that takes place on Thursdays outside of the Lecture Center, where the Office of Campus Sustainability had a booth set up with sign-up information. “I hope even regular people who don’t have a say in any of this can see the cause and think ‘I should start doing something.’”
Hodun, among other students, was able to use this experience as a way to provide a platform for his voice among the thousands that stood by him. The march was more than a demonstration; according to organizers it was a call that our leaders are supposed to help the people they represent. That is exactly what the participants of the march say they did by speaking their beliefs and promoting a plan to cultivate a better future for a planet facing the repercussions of humans.
Maggie Schultz, a senior majoring in sustainability management, said she found importance in attending that day, given that she’s “dedicating her career towards it.” Her work doesn’t stop there, as she interns for the Office of Campus Sustainability as an ambassador on the climate action team. Her role as an ambassador mainly consists of the organization of campus events and media relating to sustainability. “If you’re passionate about something, then I would almost say it’s your duty to make it known.”
A large range of grassroots organizations, such as People of Color and Indigenous peoples, and frontline communities living by oil facilities, such as elders and youth, collaborated to bring attention to the climate emergency. As a way to combat the impact left on the environment, these groups worked together to coordinate the march, write a letter to President Biden explaining the people’s wants and formed a list of groups for people looking to get involved.
The efforts mentioned above are in response to the declaration made by United Nations General Antonio Guterres to hold a Climate Ambition Summit in New York City in September of 2023. World leaders are discussing commitments to end expansion of fossil fuels and gradually discontinue oil. In anticipation of the summit, organizations in favor of the movement formed the protest to help pressure the change.
With a global issue of this magnitude pertaining to environmental justice, the Office of Campus Sustainability acted by promoting attendance from campus members. Campus Sustainability Coordinator Lisa Mitten took the lead in organizing the college’s participation. Her involvement with the march began over the summer as word spread of its significance. “There were many different organizing hubs of people from different locations, interests and identities who rallied their community to participate in the march. People from so many different walks of life came together under one unified goal. I think that really demonstrated the power and growth of our movement.”