College News

Students gear up for climate march, promote sustainability during Earth Week

ASM Sustainability Committee Chair Billy Welsh and Vice Chair Leah Johnson made posters with other members Tuesday in preparation for the Madison Climate March this weekend.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

Citing frustration over the current political atmosphere, members of Associated Students of Madison’s Sustainability Committee are making strides to combat climate change and draw attention to pressing environmental issues.

Among other actions, they are gearing up to participate in the Madison Climate March, a city-wide event that will take place this Saturday on Earth Day.

Billy Welsh, chair of the committee, echoed the exasperation of many Madisonians, including students, who plan to attend the march.

“It’s a way to vent my frustration at all of the latest environmental policies that have happened and follow it up with actual action,” Welsh said.

Other members of the committee shared similar sentiments.

“I’ve just been really disappointed with the lack of action,” Emily Way, another member of the committee, said. “I’m hoping that this will show that students and other community members are committed to doing good things for the environment.”

The march is expected to draw thousands to Capitol Square, as residents urge government and industry leaders to take action to combat climate change and promote sustainable practices.

According to the protest’s website, its purpose is to fight back against “current state and federal administrations” that have placed the earth “under attack.”

But leaders of the sustainability committee say they have been taking action on environmental issues in the days leading up to the march as well. This week is Earth Week, during which community members are encouraged to think about sustainable practices.

“I think that Earth Week, and Earth Day especially … force people to recognize the fact that we live on earth,” Leah Johnson, the committee’s vice chair, said. “You notice green a lot more and you smell the flowers a lot more, whether or not you do it intentionally.”

To recognize Earth Week, the committee partnered with the Wisconsin Union Directorate to bring Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, a 16-year-old indigenous climate activist, to campus for a talk Monday. Welsh also highlighted a presentation on the Flint water crisis that will take place Thursday.

But the main event during Earth week, Welsh and Johnson acknowledged, is the march.

At a committee meeting Tuesday, members created signs to bring to the protest and made plans to meet and walk to the Capitol before it starts.

“It’s a march to say we believe in climate change and we think we need to take steps against it,” Johnson said. “It’s going to be sweet!”

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