Students Strike for Climate Change

By M. Francis Mirro


Photo Credit - Habib Affinnih / ASP

Hundreds of students and activists from throughout the Capital Region converged on Capitol Park last Friday to protest and bring awareness to one giant issue: climate change.


The event was part of the Global Climate Strike, an international effort of rallies and marches created to, by skipping classes and work, disrupt the norm of the usual Friday workday.


In Albany, and around the world, the message was loud and clear: climate change is an existential crisis, and we aren’t doing enough.


“I’m here to tell our politicians that young students and people care about climate change and we want something done about it,” said Madeleine Wadeson, a freshman political science major from Warwick, NY, who skipped class to be there.


Many organizations came together for the event: the United Nations Association of the United States (UNUSA), the UAlbany Students for Sustainability, the UAlbany Peace Action, the Albany branch of the Sunrise Movement, and the Albany Climate Strike group.


Students first gathered outside Page Hall on the downtown campus, where many took the time to prepare banners and signs.


From there, after a speech from UAlbany senior, Grace McGrath, the group, including a contingent from Saint Rose, flooded the capital streets.


“We’re sending out a message to all people,” said UNUSA President Benitha Muyizere, a junior from Rwanda. “It’s more of a climate action advocacy. We have proposed ideas that we will be sending to the mayor [Kathy Sheehan] and we hope they can be adopted as soon as possible because the Earth is dying and we are going to save it has to be now.”


Through rhythmic chants, laughter, car horns in both support and derision (but mostly the former) and lots of filming from onlookers, the marchers arrived at the park in the shadow of the New York State capitol building.


UAlbany students were soon joined by other organizations from around the city, including protestors from Albany High School.


UAlbany student organizer, Audrea Din, and other student leaders from the area denounced world leaders for failing to address climate change, especially decrying the rollback of 53 environmental laws under the Trump administration.


With special emphasis on the disproportionate effects of the worsening climate on underserved communities, the speakers demanded to have their voices heard.

The next five minutes were spent in total silence as the mass of protestors laid on their backs for what was dubbed a “Die-In”.


Looking out, one might think it was a mass of dead bodies on the capitol lawn.

“We are here to show the people in Washington and New York State lawmakers that something needs to be done,” said Grace McGrath. “We’re the ones that are going to be dealing with this in the future. They aren’t. So it’s important for us to stand up and speak out.

Little kids climbed statues to get a better look and their parents made sure they paid attention.


Old and young were crying.


People came from UAlbany, Saint Rose, Long Island, Buffalo, New Jersey, and even Chicago. They came with drums, horns, guitars, banners and signs.


They came with demands. But most comforting was that they came at all.


If you want to learn more about how you can fight climate change in Albany, you can visit https://www.albanyclimateactioncoalition.com/.



Photo Credit - Habib Affinnih / ASP


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