Why March? Two Students Share

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017
by Gwen McNamara, Communications Coordinator

On Saturday, April 29 thousands of people are expected to converge in Washington DC for the People’s Climate March, and to participate in related marches across the country. Here at Princeton University, students involved in Green Princeton, a Pace Center student organization focused on taking environmental action on campus and in the community, are organizing participation. 

But why are they marching? What do they hope to accomplish? How will it impact their lives on campus? Jeremy Zullow ’17 and Naomi Cohen-Shields ’20 share from opposite ends of the student spectrum in a Q&A with the Pace Center. 

Pace: Why are you going to the March?

Jeremy Zullow (JZ): “I'm going to the march because environmental protection must be a primary focus for the Trump administration and for our society. Protecting the environment is critical because environmental degradation will lead to climate change, air and water pollution, depleted natural resources, and more issues that will harm society, in turn. We must maintain an ongoing conversation about how we can work on environmental protection, and we must be clear about the dangerous implications of abusing our environment. The action of marching sends a visible message to the media, society, and to representatives, and I am taking part in the march to help deliver that message.”

Naomi Cohen-Shields (NCS): “I am going to the March to add my voice to the environmental movement. I want to show my support for needed environmental policy, stand up for our future, and march for those people being hit hardest by the effects of climate change yet still neglected by our government and society.”

Pace: What does marching mean to you?

JZ: “Marching is an important civic action, as it gives a physical voice to popular concerns. It is also an opportunity to build partnerships. A successful march unites people from different backgrounds and different perspectives, and it initiates conversations about the issue or issues of concern. It allows people to share their stories and hear others', and it can democratize a movement by facilitating inclusive dialogue and compromise on the issues of concern.”

NCS: "To me, marching is a way to assert the responsibility of the individual towards the collective. It is a way for me to stand up for important causes and for my values, to show my friends, my communities, and the world what I believe in and to ask that they join me in fighting for it."

Pace: What do you think it will accomplish?

JZ: “The last Climate March was organized around an important climate meeting at the United Nations, and served as a megaphone for the people's insistence that the international community commit to addressing environmental issues. This march is directed towards an administration that has so far acted without concern for the environment's well-being. In 2014, the People's Climate March reinvigorated grassroots activists and brought groups together from different spheres. It also sent a strong message that was acknowledged in the halls of the United Nations, by Ban Ki-Moon and by other world leaders. I hope that this march reminds our representatives of the importance of and widespread support for environmental protection, and elicits the same positive reception. The passion and energy from the march provided a new spark for environmental work, and I believe that it will have the same impact this time.”

NCS: “I hope that the March will generate more attention for environmental issues and more discussion of what this means in today’s society. I hope that it sends a strong message to our government that we will not back down, and that it serves as a rallying call for the rest of the country.” 

Pace: How will it impact you back on campus?

JZ: “Since I'm graduating soon, I won't have much opportunity to do follow-up work on campus after the march. However, I do know from my experience organizing Princeton's contingent to the People's Climate March in 2014 that the process of preparing for the march, and the march itself, creates a more action-oriented ethos among student environmental advocates and provides a foundational leadership and advocacy experience. I believe that participation in this climate march will invigorate and empower new environmental leaders on campus.”

NCS: “The inspiration and empowerment that comes from marching is contagious, and I expect it to magnify my fervor for environmental causes. After marching, I plan to become more engaged in environmental initiatives on campus and help spread awareness and engagement among other Princeton students. People get tired of hearing environmental spiels, but I hope to find a way to convey the urgency and importance of the matter, and make it more involving for everyone.” 

To join Green Princeton at the People’s Climate March, fill out this Google Form or visit their Facebook page for additional information. Check out our April newsletter for additional march options in the area.