Photo By: Daniel Olivas
On September 20th, approximately 2,000 concerned Sonoma County citizens marched from Santa Rosa Junior College to the Santa Rosa downtown square with protest signs in hand. Through chants like “keep that carbon in the soil, no more coal, no more oil” and “show me what democracy looks like, this is what democracy looks like” the youth-led strike exemplified perspectives of many frustrated climate activists.
The goal of this event was apparent—to persuade elected officials to prioritize climate emergency action and to inspire corporations to implement more environmentally conscious initiatives within their business models. Requests from protestors included banning single use plastic, reducing food waste, minimizing carbon emissions and shifting societal structure to accommodate environmental needs.
Inspired by the now famous Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist, the Santa Rosa Climate Strike was one of thousands that occurred globally. Sonoma and Petaluma also took park in the movement. Having three Sonoma County cities participate in this event demonstrated the urgency for climate change within the community. The presence of Sonoma State University Clubs proved the commitment local university students hold to creating a prosperous future as they enter post-college life.
Surfrider Foundation Club and Students United for Sustainability Club, two prominent environmental groups on campus were present at the event. Students United for Sustainability Club President, Marian Mejia, showed up because she believes all actions bring activists closer to a resolution. When asked about the most effective element, Mejia answered “I think when children showed up it put into perspective the severity and reality of the situation. It was effective in reminding us why we’re doing this and why we will continue to do this!”.
Sonoma State University student Daniel Olivas shared his excitement regarding the diversity and sense of community during the march. “I noticed cars parking to the side of the road and people running out to join in”. There were also employees standing outside of their businesses cheering as the marchers passed by.
Along with students, SSU professors also attended the Climate Strike. Geography, Environment, and Planning professor, Jose Hernandez Ayala, was pleased to see intergenerational support present at the strike. “It was truly inspiring to see children, teenagers and people from all age groups striking for climate action. I also found the speeches by high school and university students to be truly inspirational. In their speeches, they showed that they understand the science of climate change, and most importantly, that they also have a profound understanding of the different measures that we need to take to properly address the climate crisis”.
Sonoma State was well-represented during this event of public cry and communication, but this is not the only way SSU is involved in climate action. Efforts towards a more sustainable and resilient future are made every day on campus through the Center for Environmental Inquiry, Facilities Management, and the new President's Sustainable Advisory Council. SSU intends to increase environmental awareness and minimize harmful environmental effects through these programs along with student, professor and faculty collaborations. Learn more about these efforts by following the links below.