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Students Advocate For Environmental Change Through Strike

Last Friday, September 20, numerous Coe students united in front of the Stewart Memorial Library to strike for the cause of preventing climate change. Many students and faculty members made posters, spoke in front of the crowd, and brought their passion in the hopes to inspire change for a better future. 

“I was very happy with the turnout for the strike,” stated Noah Gronewold, who helped organize the event. “We had dozens of students stop by and listen; some even got up and spoke without preparing anything. It definitely added a certain sense of urgency when these students and community members got up and were able to spout off facts and what seemed like a never-ending list of tragedies occurring every day. It was needed, though.” 

One of these students, Sydney Lage, talked about her experience. 

“It’s great that, as a freshman, there are so many ways for me to get involved here at Coe with other students who are equally conscious of the environment,” said Lage.

“Striking as a form of protest communicates that whatever the people are striking for or against is more important than their typical, daily routine,” said student Sarah Reilly. “So in the case of our climate strike, we were protesting en masse to say that creating a sustainable climate is more important than attending 15 minutes of class.” 

This climate strike coincided with several other similar strikes that took place throughout the world. College Chaplain and Counselor Malea White assisted with Coe’s strike. 

Friday, September 20 marked the start of Global Climate Strike week,” said White. “Millions of people held climate strikes last Friday, so we participated in a much broader movement for climate action.” 

White also explained the plans going forward with this movement. 

“We’re going to hold events every Friday through the rest of the semester, maybe longer if there’s interest,” said White. “On Fridays, at noon we’re hoping to plant trees, hold a screening for the documentary Paris to Pittsburgh and learn more about how to live responsibly, care for the earth and advocate for change.” 

The group partially responsible for this strike is Iowa Interfaith Power and Light. 

“A group of students and I organized the strike as a non-partisan, interfaith effort,” said White. “My hope is to empower students to look at climate action through a range of angles, including their faith or spiritual tradition, and realize that care for and protection of the earth is important through any lens.”

Beyond these strikes, there are several other ways Coe students can get involved and take action. White said that students can get involved in Environmental Club (E-Club) on campus or connect with the Sustainability Council to “learn more about how Coe is making responsible choices for the environment. 

“I’m taking a group of students to an interfaith workshop on October 26 and still have a couple of spots left if someone has an interest in getting involved through interfaith effort,” said White. 

“Doing the regular things like turning off water and electricity when not in use; calling your local, state, and national officials and pleading for them to care about their constituents; or reducing carbon emissions is a great way for those with busier schedules,” said Gronewold.

Finally, Sarah Reilly recommended students who are more interested in learning about climate change and looking for more resources visit the website for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (https://www.ipcc.ch/). 

(Edited to leave out personal contact information)

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