By Nic Koski, Columnist
A year ago, 15-year-old Greta Thunberg skipped school to sit on the steps of the Swedish parliament building and demand that her government take more serious action on the issue of climate change. More and more student activists across the globe have been mobilizing for climate action on their campuses and in their communities since then. As students, we are in a prime position to push for change and here’s how.
We have the benefit of already being surrounded by fellow activists ready to be organized. There are already over twenty thousand of us here at Towson University alone, not to mention all the students at other nearby schools. There are plenty of social justice-oriented groups on our campus where students gather to discuss current issues and organize for action (the Eco-Reps and the Student Environmental Organization are just a couple I’d recommend checking out). On top of that, I’ve met several inspirational activist professors and staff during my time here. Everyone in our community is worth connecting with.
But at our institution, our voices matter most. Only with enough volume coming from the people who pay thousands in tuition will the university listen. The Fossil Fuel Divestment movement, for instance, has made great strides on college campuses through organizing student sit-ins, strikes, petitions, protest art, and banner drops. Even some students I’ve known here have utilized the Office of Sustainability to start green initiatives on our campus that may not have happened otherwise.
Making an impact on our university can surely have a ripple effect throughout the rest of our society, but we can also take our own momentum beyond the university. Just like Thunberg, we can make a big difference as students by marching up to our elected officials’ doorsteps and demanding action. We can also join in large-scale protests, such as the upcoming Global Climate Strike on Sept. 20. And there are plenty of organizations willing to help in these efforts, including the Sunrise Movement and the Climate Justice Alliance. Through these larger organizations, students are leading the way in national and international escalation of the climate movement.
As students, we are here to learn first and foremost. Whether we are learning about biology, dance, economics, education, or nursing, there are connections between all of our disciplines and our political action. But as students, we are also here to educate. We must take what we know and apply it to make change in our communities. I know that the climate crisis, along with other intersecting social problems, is real and needs to be addressed. And I know that, as students, we have the potential to be the face of change.