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BU represents at March for Science

Rachel Wright, News Editor

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     “What do we want? Science. When do we want it? After peer review.” Chants rung through the streets of Washington D.C. as an estimated 40 thousand scientists and supporters rallied on the National Mall on Earth Day for the March for Science.

     The event included speakers such as Nancy Roman, the Chief of NASA’s Astronomy and Relativity Programs, Christy Goldfus, the Vice President of Energy and Environmental Policy at the Center for American Progress, Leland Melvin, an astronaut and S.T.E.A.M. explorer, Bill Nye and Questlove of The Roots.

     According to the official website, the March for Science is “a celebration of science. It’s not only about scientists and politicians; it is about the very real role that science plays in each of our lives and the need to respect and encourage research that gives us insight into the world.” Despite the website statement, it was clear that for many in attendance the issue was political, as many of the signs were referring to the opposition of President Donald Trump’s threats of budget cuts to agencies that fund the work scientists do.

     Many big names in science were present and spoke passionately about their work and what they hope the future of their field will look like in the next few years. One of the bigger names in the crowd, Bill Nye, said, “Today we have a great many lawmakers, not just here but around the world, deliberately ignoring and actively suppressing science. Their inclination is misguided and in no one’s best interest. Our lives are in every way improved by having clean water, reliable electricity and access to electronic global information.”

 

     Despite the less than ideal weather, the rain soaked audience moved on from the rally portion to the march down Constitution Avenue toward the Capitol Building.

    Bloomsburg University students and professors were present and active participants in the march. English professor Claire Lawrence started to organize a bus trip for interested students and faculty who were interested.“I had originally organized the bus because I am part of the Green Campus Initiative and felt it was hugely important to stand up to climate science deniers,” said Lawrence.

     During the actual walking portion of the march, participants chanted and cheered as they made their way down the streets in unity. “It was great to be a part of history and celebrate all the wonderful things that would not be possible without science,” said Geography professor Jennifer Haney, who was also representing BU. “It was also very inspiring to be in the presence of so many people who share the same concerns as I do regarding the current administration’s views on globally important issues like climate change.”

     There was a constant political undertone during the whole day as many people, including professors and students, voiced their disdain and concern of the current political climate. “…I felt like I was out there not only defending the importance of rigorous science and rationality in society, but the life of the mind in general,” said Lawrence. “The tone of our current U.S. administration has lead a lot of anti-intellectualism, which saddens me deeply. Being with a lot of people who cared enough about ideas to march in the read was really heartening.”

     Of the 40 thousand participants in the D.C. march alone, there was a lot of diversity in the crowds. “It was refreshing to see just how diverse the scientific community is in this country. There were young and old, students and faculty and parents and children,” said Haney. Since the election in November of last year, there have been multiple marches of varying topics, the most popular being the Women’s March in January and the annual March for Life which seemed to be more prominent this year than in the past

     Lawrence, who also attended the Women’s March, said when comparing the two, “The Women’s March was a lot bigger than the March for Science. It was also a lot more emotional because it was right after the election … there was a lot of shock, sadness and anger but also empowering determination.”

     She added, “…some parts of [the Women’s March] were a little scary because of the enormous crowds (500,000 people) packed in a tight space.”
Despite the unpleasant weather the heart was still there and both professors were glad they went.
“All in all I had a pretty rad time,” said Haney.

     “I have to admit I was pretty wet and cold by the time the day was over, but it was totally worth it,” said Lawrence.

Protesters armed with homemade signs marched for science in D.C. BU students and professors participated, like Jennifer Haney, Geography professor, on the right. (Photos By Rachel Wright/The Voice)

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BU represents at March for Science