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Claremont Students Strike for Climate Justice

“When the planet is under attack, what do we do? Stand up and fight!”

On December 6th, this chant echoed from students gathered on Walker Beach steps and around Bixby Plaza outside of Frary Dining Hall at Pomona College. Over 250 Claremont students and some from nearby high schools marched for the 7C Climate Strike organized by Sunrise, a movement of young people uniting in the fight to stop the climate crisis.

The movement calls upon the Claremont Colleges to take action in the face of climate change. The goals of yesterday’s strike range from promoting transparency about progress toward sustainability goals and projects, to making career, research, and course opportunities in sustainability a priority on all of the 5C’s campuses. Students specifically called on the Scripps Board of Trustees and Pomona Administration to divest from environmentally destructive industries and companies.

Specifically for Claremont McKenna College, the strike called for the school to:

  1. Update their carbon neutrality commitment to the year 2030 from 2050;

  2. Hire a full-time sustainability coordinator;

  3. Establish a college-level committee on sustainability.

The strike’s goals correlate with Sunrise Movement’s demand for “our politicians and educational institutions to treat climate change like the emergency that it is and enact the Green New Deal as well as many other solutions.” The strike is one of many in a national climate strike responding to the United Nations’ annual climate conference on the very same day.

“I am very aware that politicians are not taking this into their own hands. It’s really on us, the students,” said Eric Warmoth, a CMC sophomore and the chair of the CMC Environmental Affairs Senate Committee. “We’re really the ones who have the most to say; we’re the ones who have the longest future ahead of us.”

The younger generation has become increasingly involved in climate movements, such as Sunrise. The new series of strikes aim at continuing the momentum built during the most significant action ever taken against climate change – the Global Climate Strike September – which over 3 million participated in, at over 4,000 events in 150 countries.

In preparation for the strike, Sunrise Claremont Colleges was meeting for the past six weeks with student organizations across the five campuses, including 5C Divest, 5C Democrats, 5C Planned Parenthood, Scripps Student Garden, Students for Justice in Palestine, and sustainability-related divisions in student government from at least 3 out of the 5 Claremont Colleges (CMC, Pomona and Harvey Mudd). By involving a wide range of clubs and organizations, Sunrise has strengthened their cross-campus alliance in the fight for their shared vision.

“This environmental movement needs coalition building,” said Zoe Vavrek, a freshman at Pitzer and leading coordinator for Sunrise Claremont Colleges. “The point of this strike is to provide a platform for different groups to come together, to voice their opinions, and to talk about the future we all want to organize for.”


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