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UVM Students Hold Environment and Social Justice Rally In Advance Of Trump Inauguration

Two hours before Donald Trump was inaugurated as president, students at the University of Vermont held a rally to call for continued environmental protection and progressive social justice policies.
The UVM STANDS rally was organized by students in the college’s Environmental Studies program.
Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources Professor Amy Seidl explains that planning began immediately after Election Day.   “To have somebody elected who is actually denying the very phenomenon that they spent so much time studying and spending time innovating solutions it just cut them to the quick.  Literally after the election they came to me in tears. Not only because of the environment but others because of LGBTQ rights or concern about immigrant friends or themselves if they had immigrant families. And we felt we needed to do something to take that emotion and make good with it.”

Environmental Studies students Julie Macuga and Jillian Scannell led the rally.   “The plan wasn't to be like a dump Trump. We just felt that it was a good day to do it because it was in everybody's mind already. Our hopes that they continue environmental advocacy. So we figured today would be the day to do it. But it was mostly just about standing up using our First Amendment rights and we just wanted to make our voices heard regarding the environment.”
Macuga: “And I think that hope is very important right now because if we give in to despair then we're not going to get anything done.”

Drummers from Burlington Taiko caught the attention of passing students.

Mechanical Engineering Sophomore Alex Allardi was among those who stopped. He is concerned about the Trump administration’s climate change policies.   “The people he's putting in charge of the E.P.A. have no actual background or understanding of climate change. It's kind of scary I think that young people have to come together and work against Trump to keep environmental legislature there. I think that man is entirely backwards in every view he has but definitely the environment is one of my biggest concerns with him.”

A number of speakers encouraged students to continue advocating for social justice and the environment.  UVM Provost David Rosowsky:   “Science matters. Facts matter. Truth matters. Arm yourself with them and give them voice.”

Senator Bernie Sanders’ state director Phil Fiermonte read a letter from the senator.   “I know at time like this many people who are concerned about the environment are dispirited. This is not a time for despair. This is a time to organize.”

House Representative Selene Colburn said her 12-year-old daughter told her to recommend inspiration from a Harry Potter quote.   “Anything is possible if you have enough nerve. Please keep your nerve for the next four years and well beyond. Think big and speak out. Anything is possible if you have enough nerve.”

UVM STANDS supports the college’s efforts to attain carbon neutrality and also wants the U.S. to remain a participant in the international Paris climate accord.

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