OFF-CAMPUS EVENT

Worldwide marches support scientific research

THOUSANDS, INCLUDING politicians, students, and locals, join the March for Science in Albany to rally for increased investments in science.

On Saturday, April 22, Earth Day, thousands convened on the west lawn of the New York State Capitol building to march at one of over 600 marches for science across the nation. Before the march, volunteers coordinated over 40 educational displays, demonstrations, experiments, and crafts for those attending. The activities were tabled by science clubs, colleges, businesses, organizations, and museums. In addition to the family friendly displays, 100 science professionals participated in “Meet the Scientists,” a program where each science representative wore a name tag labeled with their area of expertise to allow kids and others to ask questions and get to know what they do in the science community. The expo on the west lawn was a great way to spend Earth Day, and brought many in the community together to stand for science, research, education, and the environment.

After these events, there was a rally with music and speakers in preparation for the march. The speakers included Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, New York State Assembly members Patricia Fahy and John McDonald, Dr. Dorcey Applyrs, Dr. Elavarasi Joseph, Dr. Amy Frappier, and the keynote speaker 20th Congressional District Representative Paul D. Tonko. The March for Science was a celebration of passion for science, as well as a call to guard and support the scientific community. The event aimed to increase the communication between scientists and the community as well as promote scientific education for both adults and children.

Tonko spoke on the importance of standing up for science and protecting facts and research, saying that “all across this nation from coast to coast, we’re making a statement today that science empowers us, science builds us, science gives us hope. Let us be resounding in our message, let us be a clarion call to invest, invest, invest in science. It is essential.”

Many at the rally expressed similar feelings through posters expressing concern in proposed budget cuts, denial of climate change by government officials, the destruction of the environment, and more. Melissa Helm ’20 said, “This was the first march I’ve gone to, and honestly it was a last minute decision to go with some friends. I went because I strongly believe in the importance of education, and Trump’s $9 billion dollar cut for the Department of Education can’t be good for our future. I also believe that climate change is a huge problem that shouldn’t be denied just because of the influence of big oil companies and politics.”

While walking through the streets of Albany, there were many mixed feelings. Some people marched angrily with posters bashing President Trump, while others simply marched to support science and the earth. However, the overall feeling was a sense of passion and community. When asked why she attended the march, Sydney Sobol ’20 stated, “I am a chemical engineering major who wants to go into sustainability, so I love science and the earth. With the EPA getting defunded and run by a climate change denier, I felt like I had to stand my ground for the earth’s future. Science shouldn’t be this controversial, and I want the U.S. to believe in scholars rather than people with a lot of money and power.”

During the march, there was an overwhelming feeling of community. It was easy for participants to feel included and accepted, with many embracing the title of “nerd” or “geek” on their posters and referencing science puns or Bill Nye the Science Guy. As Natalee Ryan ’20 said, “It was great to see a sense of community and support within the science world.” Many of the marchers who participated were people who aren’t usually involved in political activism, yet they showed up to show their support and love for science. The issues brought up at the march affect the whole world, not just a select few. “I went because I think it’s important to talk about and advocate for issues that affect all of us like climate change,” said Ariana Gerdis ’20. As she stated, science really does affect us all, and it is important to talk about these issues before it’s too late.