Campus Climate Strike Message Reverberates Around the World

Bridgewater College Community Participates in Raising Awareness on Climate Change


Holden Andrews

Hunter Potts (center) stands in the street, asking drivers to honk for climate change, while Teshome Molalenge (right) looks on with his tablet.

Danielle Brooks, BC Voice Executive Director

Bridgewater, Va.- Friday, Sept. 20, the Bridgewater College community participated in a worldwide strike to raise awareness about climate change and sustainability. Faculty and students from various disciplines lined Dinkel Avenue, held conversations and filled the Kline Campus Center Lobby to inform community members of evidence surrounding climate change.

Teshome Molalenge, Director of the Office of Community Engagement and Sustainability at the College, felt the vision for the day’s events were to “raise awareness of climate change and its impact on the environment and the future generation–a ‘wakeup call.’”

Molalenge stated the strike also served to “start a civil discourse on global climate crisis and confidently develop ideas and innovations that may lead to a greener environment or a low-carbon future.”

One of Molalenge’s most inspiring moments included viewing the pledge cards signed to reduce individual carbon footprints.

With close to 100 students, faculty, staff and community members at the strike, Molalenge felt the events were successful. Strikers could visit the KCC lobby for a “very informative and hands on experience,” Molalenge said.

Expressing pride in all students, Molalenge mentioned the Eco-Action and Environmental Science clubs exhibited remarkable tenacity. Additionally, the Director cited the institutional support–including the granting of program expenses–evoked pride.

College Chaplain Robbie Miller also attended the strike. Miller noted the student-led initiative was active in over 150 countries.

For Miller, the climate strike was “a way for our campus to stand with many others to declare that climate change is now a climate crisis that can no longer be ignored or blamed on others.”

Because he felt BC has never been known as an activist campus, Miller was proud to see students “make a very public statement about the need to end the era of fossil fuels and recognize climate change as the existential crisis it is.”

Senior Hunter Potts, whose father is the Program Director for an Underwater Research Laboratory, visited from the Florida Keys to present research on coral reefs. Potts also credited outside organizations including Climate Action of the Valley, the Sunrise Movement and various professors on campus for their presentations.

For his own presentation, Potts engaged with students “about their preconceptions [of] climate change and talking to them in a visual way to engage their interest in the topic so they would further be interested in attending the other booths.”

According to Potts, “the message was to demonstrate that we will not continue to dismiss the climate crisis, and that action needs to happen now…we achieved that goal by participating in a global movement that undoubtedly has received great recognition and seems to be the most powerful youth movement we’ve ever seen.”

Miller said, “young adults are, as Gandhi once put it, being the change they want to see in the world.”

“When taken as a solitary action, 75 to 100 people protesting climate change in Bridgewater, Virginia may not do anything, but when you connect those voices with similar ones occurring around the world, then that small voice becomes a powerful shout,” said Potts.