UIS Students Stand Up Against Climate Change

Countless news stories regarding climate change activism have flooded news feeds lately, sparking debate across the country about the Green New Deal. UN Climate Action Summit . Activists have taken to the streets this past week in protest for the Global Climate Strike, including rising star Greta Thunberg. Thunberg, a sixteen-year-old girl from Sweden, has been inspiring millions around the country to speak out against the inaction of government officials. UIS students joined the ranks of worldwide demonstrators on September 20 by protesting in front of the campus Colonnade.

Due to phrases such as “hoax” and “fake news” being thrown around in regards to the Green New Deal, it might be easier to break down just what this is. Simply put, the Green New Deal is a fourteen-page resolution that was proposed by Senator Edward Markey and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that details a plan in regards to ending the rising global temperature and supporting Americans during the economic shift from natural resources to renewable resources. It is not a bill or legislation. It is simply an outline for how America should move forward to avoid a global disaster, and it implements safety nets for the people who might lose their jobs by going green. It promises universal healthcare, increased minimum wage, and implementing improvements for poverty-stricken areas. It is an incredibly basic, first-step plan that has rocked the boat of Congress. Both Democrats and Republicans have found fault with it, but as of right now, it is the only plan that has given any kind of recognition to climate change.

UIS students picked up their protest signs and shouted for change alongside millions of others. Francesca Butler, organizer of UIS’s rally, felt that, “…Green New Deal is our next step to combat climate change on a national stage.” As a chair on the UIS Green Fee Committee, Butler thinks that there is still more we as a university can do to soften our carbon footprint. “To make significant change in regards to the campus carbon level, we need a whole system overhaul. I think that would require more investment financially and psychologically from students and the U of I system. But we could do it, it is doable.”

Ben Paoletti, SGA President, also attended the protest and was proud to be a part of it. “The overall goal for UIS students was to be part of something bigger than themselves and help spur recognition to the problem of climate change.” He, like many others, has mixed feelings on the Green New Deal, and stated that “There are some other semi-related parts that I do not fully agree with, mainly because the deal is very one-sided and I don’t think it will be passed when it remains a partisan issue.” As to the turnout of the protest, he said it “[w] ent really well! Turnout was much higher than expected and the atmosphere was very hopeful.”

Although there is still a lot of work to be done by lawmakers, future generations are already beginning to take a stand. UIS students are among those who are willing to make sacrifices for the sake of the world. Butler’s passionate words rang out across campus during the strike and continue to resonate. “I wish that world leaders cared enough about future generations that I did not have to skip my classes to lecture a bunch of grown adults about reality. It will continue to be necessary until they take responsibility.”