Out of 40,000 people, 10 MSU students, along with 45 students from other Michigan colleges, swarmed the outskirts of the White House at noon Sunday in Washington, D.C. for the Forward on Climate rally.
The rally was put on by 350.org, the Sierra Club and the Hip Hop Caucus to persuade President Barack Obama to fight climate change. The main goal of the environmental activists is to have the president reject the expansion of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which carries one of the dirtiest fuels in the world – tar sands oil.
Social relations and policy freshman Connor Meston said events, such as the Forward on Climate, rally motivate him to be more involved with MSU Beyond Coal and in the environmental movement in general.
“This rally stimulates conversation in the public sphere about changing the climate,” Meston said. “After going to the rally, it makes me want to be more involved with environmental advocacy after graduation.”
Because of the mass amount of people at the rally, Meston also said Obama can cite the event as a reason to not support the Keystone Pipeline expansion.
MSU students left campus on a bus around midnight on Saturday and got to the rally at about 12:30 p.m. Sunday. Meston said when they arrived, he saw people holding signs and thickening crowds as the group got closer to the Washington Monument.
Crowds stuck out in the cold wind to wrap around the White House, stretching a few miles down Pennsylvania Avenue. The day ended with keynote speakers calling the crowds to action and MSU students getting back to East Lansing at 6:45 a.m. Monday — just in time for classes.
Jeff Andresen, associate professor in the Department of Geography and state climatologist for Michigan, said rallies such as this help people, especially MSU students, become more aware about climate change and ultimately help answer questions about the issue.
“The more involved everyone is, the better,” Andresen said. “Through events like these, MSU students will be more educated and prone to find solutions.”
Andresen said his experience with tracking the Michigan climate in recent years has been frightening because of evidence that drastic changes in weather and precipitation are occurring because of human activity, some of which is disputed in the scientific community.
Social relations and policy senior Callie Bruley said she never has been a part of a rally this large before, and she was excited to see MSU students participate. As a member of MSU Beyond Coal, Bruley also campaigns for cleaner energy at MSU.
“I felt a new urgency to come back to MSU and continue to push administration to 100 percent clean energy,” Bruley said. “People involved in this movement won’t stop until we win.”