Students on 'climate strike' at the University of Rochester

Sep 20, 2019

The global climate strike, a worldwide event to bring awareness to climate change, was a focus at the University of Rochester on Friday. Students organized a teach-in with speakers from groups working to combat the climate crisis. 


A sign at Friday's climate change teach-in at the University of Rochester.
Credit Noelle E. C. Evans / WXXI News

Ashley Bardhan is a senior at the university and one of the organizers of the teach-in. She says she was moved to take action because national and international leaders aren’t doing enough to curb climate change. 

"Our own president doesn’t give a (censored) about the Earth and you know, the Paris Agreement is in shambles," Bardhan says. She’s 20, and, like others who were born into this crisis, she feels her future is already limited. "I don’t want to have children because I think my children are going to die for climate-related reasons. I feel very strongly about this. I feel the immediacy of it. The Amazon rainforest was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me," she says, referring to fires set by farmers in the Brazilian Amazon. 

Ashley Bardhan is a senior at the University of Rochester.
Credit Noelle E. C. Evans / WXXI News

"The Amazon rainforest is on fire. So that’s 20 percent of the world’s oxygen on fire," she says.

Also at the teach-in was Sue Staropoli with the environmental group Pachamama Alliance. She says the narrative around global climate disruption needs to change. "People think it’s too late and maybe go into despair, but what we’re trying to do is invite people in to focusing  -- not on the problems -- but let’s focus on the solutions and let’s empower people into action," Staropoli says. 

Pachamama Alliance's Sue Staropoli.
Credit Noelle E. C. Evans / WXXI News

Many of those solutions, she says, come down to food and agriculture. She says that composting, adjusting diet, and changing the way land is used for agriculture are all viable options.

The strikes and protests calling for leaders to address climate change have been going on for years, and they are not anticipated to end today. On Friday, Sept. 27, a student-led strike is expected to gather in front of Rochester City Hall.