Students march for climate change
Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 01:02
Wearing green hard hats and sporting colorful signs, the group of protesters marched from the Marshall Student Center to Sen. Marco Rubio’s on-campus office belting environmentally conscientious chants through a megaphone.
“Hey. Obama. We don’t want no climate drama.”
“No coal. No oil. We don’t want the world to boil.”
“Hey hey. Ho ho. The Keystone pipeline’s got to go.”
While experts from across the country gathered at the Patel Center for Global Solutions for a daylong seminar on climate change, students from the organization Student Environmental Association (SEA) along with members of the Sierra Club rallied in what they called a “March for the Climate,” a smaller-scale protest that mirrored one of the largest environmental activism demonstrations in history that took place in Washington D.C. on Sunday.
The protesters planned to deliver a letter requesting the senator to help implement legislation to protect the environment and oppose the creation of the Keystone XL pipeline and a “Smart Water” water bottle — a dig at the senator’s much-parodied lunge for a water bottle during his State of the Union response.
As they marched across campus, they received some smiles and honks of support. Others looked down and shoved their earbuds in a little more as they crossed paths. One person stuck his head of his car window as the protesters crossed the street and yelled “G------ hippies.”
But the protesters were undeterred.
“We hope Rubio will support Obama with upcoming legislation,” Shaza Hussein, SEA’s director for networking, and a senior majoring in chemistry and environmental policy, said. “We don’t think Obama has come forth in strong enough terms on environmental issues.”
Hussein said she felt both Rubio and Obama were out of touch with their constituents and she hoped the demonstration would help the elected officials become aware of the group’s concerns.
When the approximately
20 protesters clustered in the narrow corridor at the USF Research Park outside the senator’s office, the response they received was somewhat mixed, they said.
Though they left the water bottle outside the office, the group was invited by a representative of the office for a closed-door meeting which media was requested to stay out of. The representative could not be reached for comment after the meeting.
Kelly Donahue, SEA’s spokeswoman, said while she thought the event was an overall success, she was less than satisfied with the representative’s response.
“He kept deferring the blame to China and India, justifying that if they weren’t on board then why should the U.S. be on board,” she said.
Victoria Greiner, a junior majoring in anthropology, said she was leery of whether the representative would accurately convey the group’s message to Rubio.
“He didn’t really ever acknowledge that climate change exists,” she said. “He didn’t seem too scientifically well-versed and kept referencing studies from journals that aren’t peer-reviewed. Hopefully, our message will be delivered, but probably not in a way as strong as our demonstration was.”
Tampa City Councilwoman Mulhern, who attended the event said she was impressed by the dedication of the students.
“It’s our responsibility as leaders and public servants to protect the environment around us,” she said.