November 29, 2016
D.C.-Area Students Unite To Protest Trump’s EPA Pick
On Friday Nov. 18, hundreds of students and professors from D.C. area universities marched to the office of climate change skeptic Myron Ebell to protest his appointment to President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The students spoke about the growing threat of man-made climate change and their worry that a Trump administration would not take this threat seriously.
The rally, which began at Georgetown University, was organized by the Students for Climate Security, a group formed by students in Georgetown Professor Andrew Bennett’s International Relations class. Bennett, who participated in and helped organize the march, said that the election of Donald Trump and the potential appointment a climate change denier to the EPA, indicated that these were “not normal times.”
Like Bennett, who has not participated in a protest or demonstration for the last 35 years, many students who marched possessed little experience with activism and protest. Some students were demonstrating for the first time.
“It’s such a horrible thing that happened last week,” said Nick Quirk, a senior at Georgetown University, referring to the election. “Like nothing else it’s been a motivating force … you have to do something.”
Before Friday, Georgetown freshman Hannah Funk had protested only once before. She rallied against Trump in her home state of Vermont during the presidential primary campaign. But now, Funk said she could see herself participating in more activism in the future, especially on the issue of climate change.
“Now that I feel like it’s not a given that we will comply with the Paris treaty, I think activism is even more important.” Funk said.
For these students and others participating in the rally, the issue of climate change and climate justice was a particularly motivating cause.
“It’s not just the elephant in the room, it’s the mastadon,” said Quirk.
Georgetown sophomore Winslow Radcliffe-Trenner, who helped organize the rally and served as the police liaison, believes climate change is an issue that motivates young people in particular.
“We all took science in school, we all got a little depressed when we learned about climate change,” he said. “So much work has been done in the last eight years in terms of global climate change…and now we see a threat to change that.”
After arriving outside of Mryon Ebell’s office, students from Georgetown, The George Washington University, and University of Maryland addressed the crowd.
Eden Vitoff, a freshman at George Washington, said that the young crowd must unite quickly to fight to end climate change.
“Our generation cannot wait until we are in positions of power to do something, our voices have gone unheard for far too long,” he said.
While all of the students who spoke at the rally commended and thanked those in attendance, especially those who did not regularly participate in activism efforts, some stressed the importance of remaining active in social justice causes during the next four years.
“If you showed up for this… show up for black lives, show up for Muslim lives, show up for trans lives,” said Jasmine Ouseph, a sophomore at Georgetown. “
“Don’t let your activism end here.”,” she said.
“We need to make this a nation-wide movement,” said Justin McCartney, a sophomore at Georgetown. “That includes talking to people who might be skeptical.”
Looking forward, the Students for Climate Security have deemed Dec. 2 “Stop the Ebell Day.” They plan to spend that day petitioning U.S. senators to filibuster, should Trump appoint Ebell to head the EPA.