Environmental Crusaders Lead the Charge

Ethan Bachand ‘22

Chief News Editor

On September 20th, the College of the Holy Cross community held a rally on the steps of Dinand Library as part of the international youth climate strike. Following the event that was led by the Eco-Action club on campus, students and faculty marched to Worcester Town Hall to participate in a larger protest.

People gathered around the steps of Dinand at 9:00 a.m., with the leaders of the event stationed in front of the “Hand of Christ” statue. The area was packed, and attendance was estimated to be around 200 people. This number included a plethora of staff, including multiple professors and Rev. Philip L. Boroughs S.J., president himself.

With a speaker system set up, the leaders of the event gave impassioned speeches that captivated the audience. A combination of personal anecdotes and calls to action brought multiple rounds of applause for the speakers.

After the first portion of the day, organizer Emma Powell ‘20 said: “It was a good turnout, and it shows that Holy Cross is committed to Climate Justice and that people actually care about it, and we hope that this inspires more people to get involved on campus, as well as individual action.”

Photo by Kim Fetherston ’22.

Fellow organizer Renee Leblanc ‘21 added to this sentiment, saying: “It also visually shows the amount of people on this campus that truly care about demanding more and taking action on environmental issues. This campus, as we move forward, [has the] support of hundreds of people behind us, and we hope to see more…”

When asked about the strike set up by the Holy Cross students, Father Boroughs praised the effort, stating: “I think Holy Cross students have been traditionally very involved in social issues in our city … on our campus, and beyond. I really expect their participation and I am glad that it is taking place.”

After the speeches were delivered, students began to march down Linden Lane and head towards town hall. As the group walked through the city streets, cars honked their support for the politically active contingent from Mount St. James. Faculty worked hard to ensure the safety of students as they crossed streets and attempted to keep the group of 70-90 individuals together.

The group arrived at Worcester Town Hall around 10:15 a.m. with the protest already under way. Upon their arrival the contingent received loud applause, as the current speaker at the time introduced Holy Cross. Students and faculty mixed into the general audience of about 350 people.

The area outside the building entrance was full of a diverse set of individuals with a wide array of signs, some of the most prominent posters reading: “Act as if your house is on fire, because it is,” “Fossil Fuels are killing us,” “We’re on thin ice,” and “Act now or swim later.”

Matthew Eggemeier, Dean for the Class of 2023, spoke to The Spire about the event, saying, “I’m just really thrilled to see the amount of people who have come out with enthusiasm about the climate issue. I think it’s an issue that a Catholic Jesuit Institution should take a leadership role on, and I think we are doing that by participating in this march and the strike.”

After spending 45 minutes at the town hall rally, listening to a variety of speakers both young and old, students and faculty began making the journey back to campus, whether by bus or on foot.

Even though those specific events may be over, the missions of both the Eco-Action club and the college are far from over. Dean Eggemeier commented on continued efforts for climate justice on campus, stating: “I’d really like to see the students take an active role in challenging us as faculty, staff, and administration to respond to what they think are the most important steps that we can take moving forward.”

Renee Leblanc added to the sentiment, commenting that for Eco-Action: “The main goal this year is to focus on getting a Sustainability Director. We’ve never had one before, and having someone full time to work on these issues is crucial to having a sustainable campus and working towards limiting our impact on the environment. There are so many socio-economic implications that stem from helping out the environment.”

Photo by Kim Fetherston ’22.

She continued her statement by saying: “We’re demanding that we have a sustainability director within the next coming years, and the other part is we are hoping to have Holy Cross be STARS Gold Standard Certified within the next 5 to 7 years. STAR certified is a sustainability of higher education standard more or less, and it goes through every single area. So planning, operations, academics; all those different areas it helps focus on.”

While there may certainly be more work to do in terms of environmental consciousness, the Youth Climate Strike is a promising start to a new, eco-friendly era at Holy Cross. Now it is the responsibility of all the community members to keep the momentum rolling.

Check out more pictures from the strike, taken by Chief Photographer Kim Fetherston ’22!

Categories: News

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