Students call for environmental justice2 min read

June 9, 2016

More than a hundred student leaders from across California gathered Friday, May 20t at De Anza College, the host site of a two-day Convergence with the California Student Sustainability Coalition.

“Because of the significant position that California holds in climate policy globally, it is critical that students and young people are organized in this state and have the tools to continue pushing for climate justice here and abroad,” said Arjun Gadkari, 19, society and environment major.

Gadkari worked with several other passionate student leaders as a coordinator for the workshops and programs for the convergence. Together, the organizers solved logistics hurdles such as registration, finance, housing, food, creating a schedule consisting of expert speaker, interactive workshops and an informative panel.

“I think the goal was accomplished,” said an environmental studies major Devin Manion. “We got to hear so many different perspectives and tactics for addressing these issues. It built a strong sense of community.”

Sometimes the only way to be louder is by marching in the streets, occupying government buildings, dropping banners over freeways and blockading oil shipments”

— Arjun Gadkari, 19, society and environment major

One particularly thought provoking workshop was titled “Queer and Trans People of Color and Climate Justice” led by activists Kian Martin and Ryan Camero, highlighting the “shortcomings of intersectionality in the climate movement, and how we need to recognize that QTPOC are a frontline community in the climate crisis.”

“Climate justice is connected to so many other social issues through this common problem, and by recognizing that we have a shared struggle, we also must recognize we need to act in solidarity,” Gakari said.

Whether the issue was divestment from the fossil fuel industry, corporate power, systemic racism, oppression of the LGBT community or food security, the topics of the convergence had an overarching message that collectively resonated with presenters and attendees alike: Direct action is crucial.

Direct action, or the use of more immediately effective acts in favor of a movement, is integral in the fight against climate change considering the increasing threat it poses for our society, Gakari said.

“We have to be louder,” he said, “and sometimes the only way to be louder is by marching in the streets, occupying government buildings, dropping banners over freeways and blockading oil shipments.”

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