Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

December 9, 2023

In support of student-led demonstrations

For far too long, students our age have let the inconveniences of busy schedules, cynicism and lies that we are “not old enough to understand” get in the way of enacting real change. But in this age of mass extinction, when the effects of climate change are destructive enough to urge a 16 year old from Sweden to start an international Climate Strike, we have to ask ourselves: when will it be our turn to protest? 
It was high noon on Friday, Sept. 20 when our campus community gathered again to demonstrate for a more sustainable Augustana. Every face, sweat-provoked and baking in the heat of the persistent sun, turned its eyes to the small platforms at the edge of the quad and waited for resistance to speak through the microphone.
Students idled before classes at 12:15p.m. and found themselves too captivated to leave. Faculty and administrators listened while enduring the weight of button-downs and blazers. Even Quad Cities community members stood vigilant with homemade signs. 
By the end of the Climate Strike, the message was clear: we all need to be activists now. The earth depends on our leadership to defend it, regardless of fears that we aren’t qualified enough or old enough or have enough of a voice to make any real impact. 
The Augie Climate Strike last Friday was evidence of how those barriers are not enough to hold us back anymore. Students were at the center of the strike’s organization and involving others in their fight, passionately challenging administration to commit to sustainability.  These students were acknowledging that climate change disproportionately affects the marginalized poor and people of color. 
Despite a groundswell of support in attendance at the climate march, some have expressed feeling that student-led demonstrations are just unruly members of our community seeking to attract attention for hopeless causes. 
This brings up doubt in the movement. What will one demonstration do in the grand scheme of the year? Will this brief student activism create passion and emotion that leaves after only a couple of days? 
We believe that the time is now to rise up and resist. The only moment that is guaranteed, especially in the face of climate change, is now. As undergraduate students, we graduate in four years. Becoming a student activist is a time-sensitive action. And, while there may be countless opportunities for strikes and protests in the future, college campuses offer a unique and special opportunity for students to begin a lifetime of mobilization and engagement. 
While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea to lead a demonstration in the middle of class, there are countless ways to engage in movements formed by other students. The Climate Strike was powerful, not simply because of the students who organized it, but because of the 400 people who took time out of their days to show up with posters and support. 
We have an inheritance of student-led initiatives on campus, from demonstrations raising awareness for sexual assault to racial discrimination and homophobia.
Activism has a place not only on our campus but within each of our lives. Resistance and radical love for each other can take form in questions posed to professors, in performances of poetry or songs, in interactions with others, in the margins of long readings about race or gender or microorganisms.
Your resistance can be through learning with your eyes open and your hands out in service, through paying extra attention, through knowing that your responsibility to other people and to yourself is to love. 
On behalf of our generation and the ones to follow, we raise this challenge: This is our time to protest. What will you do next?

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In support of student-led demonstrations