A crowd holding signs demanding action, and chanting for change is what one may have witnessed yesterday afternoon while passing the Kerr Administration Building at Oregon State University. This crowd was a climate action rally, put on by the Sunrise Climate Movement.
Sunrise Corvallis is a group made of students from OSU and community members of Corvallis. They held the rally, which took place Dec. 6, with the purpose of highlighting climate change, which they call a climate crisis.
The rally began at noon with a land acknowledgement, before taking a marching route to Kerr Administration Building, where Sunrise presented and read a letter to President Ed Ray and administrators, in regards to OSU’s efforts to become carbon neutral.
The protest allowed students and fellow protesters to address their concerns with current climate practices in a peaceful environment.
Graduate student Willem Klajbor is a member of Sunrise Corvallis, and took part in the rally. According to Klajbor, the goal of the climate action rally was many things.
“We’re standing in solidarity with leaders who are working to fight the climate crisis right now in Spain, and other youth around the world who are marching and demonstrating today to keep up the momentum of the Sep. 20 climate strike,” Klajbor said.
In 2009, Ray and administrators signed and agreed on a mandate that promised OSU’s commitment to become completely carbon neutral by 2025.
“We also wanted to make sure we are holding the administration and Ed Ray accountable for the promises they made when they signed the Carbon Commitment,” Klajbor said.
Even with the group rallying for more initiative in OSU’s commitment, each participant had a personal reason to make their voice heard during the rally.
Democratic candidate running in Oregon’s 4th district for Congress, Doyle Canning, came out to support the rally.
“I’m here to support Sunrise Corvallis and their call for OSU to keep their commitment to go carbon neutral by 2025, without tuition hikes that hurt students,” Canning said.
Canning is running for Congress to support the Green New Deal, a vision of federal investment to transition the country off of fossil fuels permanently, supported by the Sunrise Movement.
“Today, we are proving that when grassroots candidates march shoulder to shoulder with movements and mobilize voters, incumbents pay attention because they know their job is in jeopardy,” Canning said. “Our movement is putting fossil fuels, fracking and pipeline projects like Jordan Cove at the top of the agenda for 2020, because a livable planet is on the line. That’s why I’m running, and I’ll never take a dime from the polluting industries that have destabilized our climate.”
OSU graduate student and protester, Jalyn Devereaux had her own personal reasons to aiding Sunrise in their quest of climate change at OSU.
“I’m actually Catholic, and as a Catholic person, I think it’s our duty to take care of the land in which we are given and I don’t think it’s our role to have dominance over the land,” Devereaux said. “I think we’ve done a really good job of messing it up. It’s time to take action and change that.”
After experiencing the rally first hand and being a part of the climate change movement yesterday, Devereaux became a member of Sunrise Corvallis.
Even with every member of the rally having their own reasons for protesting, participants stood behind a main goal: to get administration to take initiative in the fight against global warming, according to Klajbor.
According to Klajbor, he and Sunrise Corvallis don’t believe Ray and his administration have taken the steps necessary to make OSU carbon footprint zero by 2025.
The same day as the protest, OSU Provost and Executive Vice President Edward Feser sent out an email informing the faculty, staff and student population of the rally.
In the email, Feser said OSU has made a significant change already to lower its carbon emissions.
"We are making progress in important and measured ways," Feser said via email. "From 2008 to 2018, we have reduced greenhouse gas emissions on our Corvallis campus by 12%, despite significant growth in enrollment and the number of Corvallis campus buildings."
Feser, however, agreed that OSU has much more work to do to meet its mandate to be carbon neutral by 2025.
OSU's annual sustainability reports can be found at https://fa.oregonstate.edu/sustainability/planning-policy-assessment/annual-reports
Haley Daarstad contributed to the reporting of this story.