University of Maryland and high school students from across the state made a call for action against climate change on McKeldin Mall Sept. 24 in recognition of the global Fridays for Future strike. Fridays for Future is a movement inspired by activist Greta Thunberg’s strikes in August 2018 that organizes climate protests.
Julia Hananel, a sophomore music and public policy major, organized the rally after learning Sept. 24 was a Fridays for Future global strike date.
Hananel wanted to host a rally in College Park, Maryland, because she thought it would give students and community members a convenient opportunity to show their support for the issue. She is a Climate XChange fellow and throughout her involvement with them, she wrote an opinion article for the Maryland Reporter and testified at the Maryland Economics Matters committee hearing in favor of the Climate Crisis and Education Act.
“It’s our future,” Hananel said. “A lot of really dangerous things are going to be happening and are already happening, and it’ll kind of take over like every aspect of our lives.”
Maryland Del. Jared Solomon attended the rally and spoke about ways students can help mitigate this issue on the state and local levels. He said activism and engagement from student organizations is an important factor in creating change.
“This is what keeps me going,” Solomon said at the event. “This is, frankly, what change is going to look like.”
He also spoke about the Future Act, which would require university systems in Maryland to become carbon neutral, and referenced university President Darryll Pines’ inaugural address in which he stated his goal for the university to become carbon neutral by 2025.
The rally also focused on the intersectionality of climate change effects and the damage caused by first world countries that are affecting the developing world. A phrase used to name this issue is MAPA, or most affected people in areas.
Aadhiti Vallatharasu, sophomore government and politics major and this university’s Student Government Association Behavioral and Social Sciences Representative, spoke about the effects of climate change on developing countries. She said visiting India and smelling the polluted air made her aware of the privilege she has to not experience harmful climate change effects every day.
“What many fail to realize is that the fight against climate change is a global fight,” Vallatharasu said to the crowd. “The emissions we produce here in the U.S. have a global impact.”
Musicians and student activists from across the state also performed and spoke at the rally. Benny Roman attended and performed songs about climate change and Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.”