Annie Deitz, Campus Carrier deputy news editor

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Senior Margaret Iva Ashton gave a speech on the environmental impact of animal agriculture at the Global Climate Strike in Atlanta on Sept. 20. Photo Courtesy of Kathleen Minor

On Friday, students across the world skipped their classes and participated in the Global Climate Strike. According to the New York Times, on Saturday, more than 4 million people participated in the strike in more than 150 countries. The idea, a climate strike in which students skip school to protest against and bring attention to climate change, was started by Swedish 16-year-old Greta Thunberg in August of 2018. Since then, it has evolved into a global movement, and Berry is no exception. Several Berry students participated in the strike last Friday, both at Berry and at the Atlanta strike location. 

Senior Margaret Iva Ashton was one of the Berry students who attended the Climate Strike in Atlanta last Friday. This was her second time attending a climate strike, she also participated in the one held Mar. 15 of this year. According to Ashton, far many more people attended the more recent one. 

“I was really excited to see there were way more people there than the last time,” Ashton said. “It was a really good feeling to see so many people there and caring. There were great speakers and great energy all around.” 

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Friday Dr. Brian Campbell’s Anthropology 200 class participates in the Global Climate Strike by marching at Berry. Photo Courtesy of Zach Fuller

Ashton was invited by Zero Hour Georgia, an organization that works to propagate youth voices concerning climate change, to deliver a speech at the event. As Ashton has been a vegetarian since she was 12, she felt both compelled and qualified to speak on the connection between climate change and animal agriculture. 

“I just stuck to the facts, they speak for themselves,” Ashton said. “There is no scenario in which we are going to meet climate goals without changing our diets. I tied it back into collective action. One or two people going vegetarian or vegan is not a big thing, but if we’re all collectively on board about this, together, than we can make a real change. Just like the climate strike movement. It was received very positively.” 

The words and actions of Greta Thunberg resonate deeply with Ashton. She began considering herself an environmentalist at age 10, and said that this movement was finally giving a momentous voice to the frustrations she has been feeling her entire life. 

“When Greta started this stuff a little over a year ago, I identified very strongly with her because this is the sort of action I’ve been wanting to see for years, but it just hasn’t been happening,” Ashton said. “I’ve become increasingly frustrated as time has gone on. For me, this is a manifestation of all of that frustration and everything that needs to be happening and should have been happening over the last decade or so.” 

Furthermore, Ashton believes that she was able to represent those unable to attend the strike last Friday. In her point of view, she was privileged enough to rearrange her life around the strike, taking time out of her day to travel down to Atlanta and spend her afternoon in the heat. 

“I’m in a fairly privileged position where I am able to arrange my life around this event, and I know other people can’t,” Ashton said. “So I figured if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it for everyone who can’t. For every person that could go, there are four or five who wanted to go but wasn’t able to.” 

Sophomore Will Bannister participated in climate strike on Berry’s campus. Bannister is in Associate Professor of Anthropology and Environmental Studies Brian Campbell’s ANT 200 class, and said through course materials, he began to understand and appreciate the gravity of the current climate situation. 

“I’ll be honest, I really didn’t care too much about it beforehand,” Bannister said. “After watching documentaries in Dr. Campbell’s class, it was kind of empowering and made me care more about the issue. I realized people need to be aware of these things, and whether or not we made a huge change, we can at least educate people at this event.” 

According to Bannister, the class marched for about half an hour, walking from Evans to Krannert, then from Krannert to MacAllister. 

“It was weird at first, but since it’s with 20 other people that I have class with it became more fun,” Bannister said. “It felt like a team camaraderie thing. It was actually kind of exciting.” 

As Bannister said, the strike helped him further understand the issue, as well as how significant of an issue it was. 

“I just think it was really cool because it opened my perspective on something that I probably wouldn’t have done on a normal basis,” Bannister said. “I got a lot more out of it than I thought I would.” 

Ashton is currently working on planning another climate strike in Rome in conjunction with Fridays for the Future. While specific details are still being worked out with Rome city officials, she plans to hold it next Friday, Oct. 4. To participate, students can find the Rome Climate Strike group on Facebook. 

Posted by Campus Carrier

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