Bloomington climate groups, IU Student Government and other students organized a protest at Sample Gates Friday to demand a climate action plan from IU. Part of the plan demands IU move to carbon neutrality by 2040.
The protestors marched around campus holding signs and chanting “President Whitten will you listen?” The protest ended in front of Bryan Hall, where the students taped an IUSG Congress proclamation urging the university to commit to creating a climate action plan by the end of 2023 to the door.
Students for a New Green World, Sunrise Bloomington, and IUSG organized the protest, SNGW President Sidd Das said.
“We want students and faculty involved in writing that plan,” Das said. “The first step to this is IU making a formal commitment to making a plan.”
SNGW has hosted protests at campus tours to share their message with prospective students, he said. The goal of Friday’s protest was to gain support for the movement and show IU President Pamela Whitten that students and organizations care about this issue.
“We've been protesting almost every day this semester trying to get IU to make a climate action plan.” Das said. “IU has just refused to make one. It's the only way to be held accountable to a goal to reduce emissions.”
Members of student climate groups met with Whitten, passed an IUSG resolution and talked to media organizations, but they continue to be disappointed by IU’s lack of commitment to creating a plan, Das said.
“This is not only our future that we're making sure that IU is fighting for, but we're already seeing the damages today around the world and even locally,” Das said. “This is our future and our present. So we need to act now. We'll keep protesting until we get a formal commitment to this.”
Junior George Schafer, a member of Sunrise Bloomington, gave a speech about the disproportionate impact of climate change on vulnerable and disenfranchised communities.
“We see that poor countries, poor communities, Black communities, immigrant communities, are the ones that are being most negatively impacted by climate change,” Schafer said. “It's my responsibility, and all of our responsibilities, especially those with privilege, to fight for those that don't have privilege.”
Members of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, a socialist organization in the U.S., also spoke at the protest. IU sophomore Luke Kubehl said capitalism drives the climate crisis.
“The incredibly wasteful system of capitalism is driving humanity and all life on the planet toward mass extinction,” Kubehl said.
IU junior and SNGW member Abby Novotny said she feels anxious about already experiencing effects of climate change.
“I really just want President Whitten to acknowledge that students want this,” Novotny said. “We want to demonstrate that we're not going to give up until we get what we want. I'm really hoping that she sees that we’re not messing around, and we’re serious about this.”
IU sophomore Cooper Sykes said he wants to work with the IU administration to create a climate action plan rather than protest against them.
“As we stand here today, it is imperative that IU comes out and says ‘You know what, we are tired of being on the wrong side of history,’” Sykes said. “IU cannot continue to be hypocrites."