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The Dartmouth
June 23, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Demands made at climate justice march on the Green

Several organizations, such as Fossil Free Dartmouth and Dartmouth Energy Alliance, advocated for changes to Dartmouth’s environmental policy.

Courtsey of Kelsey Wang 

On Oct. 27, members of the Dartmouth and broader Upper Valley community gathered on the Green for a climate justice march. Several organizations — Eating for the Earth, Dartmouth Energy Alliance, Fossil Free Dartmouth, Spare Rib and Sunrise Dartmouth — organized the event to raise awareness about various environmental issues and demand action on campus.

The event began with a blessing from Abenaki Elder Earl Hatley, who spoke about his lifelong effort to fight fossil fuel companies after witnessing destructive fracking in his native Oklahoma. Maya Beauvineau ’26 then introduced the event.

Attendees marched to the Irving Institute for Energy and Society before returning to the Green for a performance from the Rockapellas and speeches from Winter Center for Indigenous Traditions John Moody, history professor Bethany Moreton and students Rosa Lopez ’26, Olvin Abrego Ayala ’25, Solange Acosta Rodriguez ’24, Hawa Hamidou Tabayi ’26, Harper Richardson ’27 and Roan V. Wade ’25.

Many participants and organizations attended the march to protest the funding that the Irving Institute receives from Irving Oil, a Canadian oil and gas company. 

“We’re supposed to be learning how to combat climate change in that building, in that space, and using those resources,” Fossil Free Dartmouth member Kaleigh Krause ’26 said. “The fact that it’s funded by Irving Oil is really contradictory.”

According to Beauvineau’s speech, Dartmouth’s acceptance of funding from Irving Oil was disheartening to students who entered the College hopeful to pursue environmental studies. The involvement of several Irving Institute’s Advisory Board members with the fossil fuel industry made some students question the College’s commitment to the environmental sustainability goals, outlined in College President Sian Leah Beilock’s inauguration speech and the College’s 2021 decision to divest from fossil fuels

“[We ask] the President to not invite fossil fuel companies, for example — to even recruit students [for jobs and internships] here because Beilock says that she’s so sustainable,” Krause said. “But she’s not really willing to do that.” 

Fossil Fuel Dartmouth outlined a set of demands to remove fossil fuel corporation influence and greenwashing — conveying a false sense of environmentalism — from the Irving Institute, according to Fossil Fuel Dartmouth member Alexandra Ponasik ’26. 

“We have our demands, centered around stopping fossil fuels funding,” Ponasik said. “From this point on, dissociating from fossil fuel funding, renaming the Irving building to become a Center for Climate Solutions, removing people from fossil fuel companies [on the Irving Institute’s Advisory Board].”

In a written statement, Krause explained that the funds should not go toward future environmental work.

"Fossil Free Dartmouth is not asking the College to give back the funds from Irving since it is already sitting in the endowment, but we are calling for future safeguards so that fossil fuel funding is no longer used for environmental research," Krause wrote.

Several student and local groups also attended the climate justice march to bring awareness to other environmental issues. Abrego Ayala, a member of the Central American Club, spoke about the pressing issue of climate refugees in the Central America Dry Corridor. 

“It’s usually always countries in the Global South that are the most affected by climate change, and they cannot afford mitigation campaigns like the U.S. and [countries in the European Union],” Ayala said. “... I feel like people think about the climate and temperature and stuff, but there are ways that cultures are being eradicated.”

New Hampshire climate action group 350NH attended the event to advocate for fossil fuel divestment and spread awareness about corporate greenwashing, according to youth organizer Elisabeth Bialosky. 

“I think a lot of people still don’t even know what that terminology actually means,” Biolosky said. 

Bialosky also spoke about the impact that Dartmouth students can have on institutional change. 

“I think [there] is a direct way that youth right now have a huge impact on the climate crisis,” Bialosky said. “[They have an] ability to kind of push a lot of the institutions that they are both paying to be in and active community members in to actually meet the interest of the youth right now.”

Ponasik echoed this sentiment, reflecting on the diversity of environmental issues represented at the march. 

“At the end of the day, it’s the student support that’s going to get us somewhere,” Ponasik said. “We need a lot of people here to show Beilock, to show the administration that students really care about climate justice, and we want this to happen.”

Correction (November 1, 1:05 p.m.): A previous version of this article included a quote from Krause, who alleged that Fossil Free Dartmouth was not "asking [the College] to give back the money, but we’re asking them to use it for environmental research."  While Fossil Free Dartmouth is not demanding the College return its current holdings related to the fossil fuel industry, it is instead calling for safeguards to prevent future environmental research from being financed by fossil fuels-related funding. Krause's quote has been updated.