Bellevue College students protest climate inaction

“The world is waking up. Change is coming, whether you like it or not,” said Greta Thunberg in her recent speech to the United Nations. Greta is a 16-year-old Swedish activist who has quickly become one of the most prominent figures in this year’s unprecedented movement on climate change.

According to organizers, over four million students have walked out of class all over the country in the past week to protest inaction on climate change. This Wednesday, Sep. 25, Bellevue College students joined their number.

From 12:00 to 12:30, the sun-dappled courtyard in front of C building was filled with students who walked out of class to make their voice heard.

“We have to take charge to overcome the leadership, and I think that’ll happen pretty soon, just seeing all the people here today,” maintained Myles Heward, one of the students who spoke at the event.

Despite the shining sun and the smiling faces, the gravity of the issue was not lost on the protestors. One student held a sign that said, ‘Time is running out,’ and Erika Lamothe, another student speaker, explained passionately that “all of our futures rely on our decisions.”
That much responsibility is a heavy burden, but the students at the walkout seemed to shoulder it with pride. Many students, Myles and Erika among them, found the inspiration to take the mic unprepared. “I was nearly moved to tears coming up to the podium to speak to the students about my feelings,” Erika added. “It was quite an unexpected opportunity that I didn’t know I was going to have.”

That kind of opportunity is exactly what Amber Nicholson, one of the organizers and the head of Bellevue College’s Office of Sustainability said this event was all about: “I really wanted to make climate justice topics and conversation very up front and center for the students [this year], so this was the kickoff for that.”

The walkout was a part of Bellevue College’s Year of Climate Justice program which will continue throughout the year. Upcoming events include a field trip to 21 Acres on October 2 to learn about the importance of sustainable farming, bike-powered renewable smoothies on October 10, and a movie showing of Chasing Coral with guest speaker Kelley Dennings from the Center for Biological Diversity on October 29. Commenting on the program, Erika said, “I ask that students try to push themselves out of their comfort zone and to be brave, ask more questions, and utilize the tools they have here to make a difference.”

For those looking to get further involved in the climate movement, Amber recommends that they check out and get involved with other organizations such as 350 Eastside, Front and Centered, The Sunrise Movement, or Extinction Rebellion. She also recommends that students drop by the Transportation Office in C building to see if they can take the bus with a discount Orca card or use Zimride to find carpools school, reminding us that students driving themselves to campus are the number one contribution to Bellevue College’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“This is about taking care of each other,” Erika said. “We all share this planet — the planet is our home and we are absolutely guilty of the damage that has been done.” She acknowledged that sometimes it’s easier to feel stuck, like there is nothing that we can do to make a change.

“Sometimes it seems like we’ve gone too deep, with things like oil and all that,” Myles agreed. Nonetheless, they both remain hopeful and determined for a better future. “We need to act more than to share images on social media,” stressed Erika. “The conversation is there and the science is there, so now we must do something about it!”