Students strike for sustainable future

Students from the Environmental Studies department are taking their passions beyond the classroom this week by organizing and holding events for global climate week on campus.

Students from the Environmental Studies senior seminar class, the Environmental Resource Center (ERC) and professor Glenn Fieldman will attempt to motivate the SF State community to participate in climate week events, and to be part of a global climate strike in San Francisco on Friday.

“I think it’s super important that people know about this,” said Gilbert Ramirez, 24, a senior participating in the organization of climate week events. “If we don’t start changing soon we’re going to be past the point of no return. Everyone’s gonna suffer.”

Students in the department have been tasked with organizing and carrying out activities pertaining to climate week. These events are intended to get members of the SF State community to take a more proactive stance against climate change.

Climate week, spanning Friday to Sept. 27,  intends to give students and climate advocates the chance to have their voice heard before the United Nations Climate Action Summit on Sept. 23. At the summit, members of the United Nations will “bring together governments, the private sector, civil society, local authorities and other international organizations to develop ambitious solutions,” according to the United Nations website.

“We have a climate emergency on our hands and we need to make sure that our decision-makers know unequivocally that we want something done and we want it now,” Dr. Fieldman, an associate professor in Environmental Studies, said. 

The ERC will also take part in the organization of climate week events. 

“It’s an issue that affects everybody, nobody can escape it,” said Sophia Benzoni, sustainable initiative coordinator at the ERC, a section of Associated Students. “It is a very time sensitive issue.”

Benzoni and Ramirez are two students who are involved in organizing the events for the upcoming week, which is notably designed to be a youth-led strike. Youth climate activism has been spurred by Greta Thunberg, a Swedish teenager who gained notoriety in 2018 for taking a bold stance against climate change, through the condemnation of public officials and policymakers.

“What I hope will happen as a result of climate week is that a lot of people who are currently not active will become and stay active,” Fieldman said. “We are going to have to keep the pressure on.”

Several of the organizing students have been involved in protecting the environment before their days here at SF State. 

Ramirez was part of the Green Technologies Academy while he was attending Oxnard High School in Ventura County, a beach community.

“I was a representative for my class,” Ramirez said. “During the summer, through a leading solar company named Sun Power out of San Jose, a few other students and I taught classes regarding the benefits and understanding of solar panels. Our school ran 100% off solar panels.”

Climate week activities will be comprised of an informational and poster session held by the ERC on Tuesday from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m at T-152 in the Cesar Chavez Student Center, and the Climate Strike will take place on Friday. People interested in being part of the strike are encouraged to meet in Malcolm X Plaza at 9 a.m. From SF State, the group will travel to the corner of Market and 7th streets to join the rest of the strike. 

Letter writing workshops directed at state representatives will take place in Malcolm X Plaza Sept. 23 to 26 from 11 a.m to 1 p.m.

Trash pick up will happen Sept. 26 from 9 a.m to 1 p.m at the corner of Holloway Avenue and Junipero Serra Boulevard.

Classroom visits from students will also take place throughout the duration of climate week.