By Rachel Miles
March 12 was the first day of Roanoke College’s climate change teach-in. This event was the first of two sessions that are occurring as a part of this year’s Women’s Forum. Dr. Valerie Banschbach welcomed the large audience to the event at noon, encouraging everyone present to make their way to the back of the room at any time to take advantage of the refreshments laid out. She thanked everyone for coming as well as the faculty, staff, and students making the event possible. The purpose of the forum, said Banschbach, was to enlighten everyone to the truths of climate change which, though depressing, are serious and need more attention than they often receive. She wanted to relate all of these issues to students by incorporating the students in their presentation. To this end, Alex Ramey, Claire Brooks, Mackay Pierce, and Zack Borst gave short speeches on their involvements in environmental projects on and off campus.
Banschbach began the presentation by relating it to Women’s History month by discussing the connotations that environmental issues have specifically on women. In fact, through documentation it has come to general attention that climate change has a more drastic effect on females than on males. This is due to many factors, among which are the women’s most common jobs in developing countries. Women are more often involved in agriculture and certainly more involved in collection of water- two areas highly affected by changes in climate. In addition, women make up more than half of the world’s illiterate and poverty stricken population, for this reason too they are largely affected. In a video shown by presenter Zack Borst, a Virginia Tech student, stated that, “The people most likely to be affected are the people least likely to have contributed,” referring directly to those in poverty being affected by the choices of large companies who will not see the damages they create in their lifetime.
Borst’s talk was centered around the Divest Roanoke campaign, which calls for the college to reexamine the companies that they invest in and the morals of those companies. He urged those in the audience to withdraw our college’s investments from fossil fuel driven companies and reinvest in companies whose names we are proud to associate with. Anyone interested in this campus organization is encouraged to look them up on Facebook for more information and ways to get involved.
Junior Alex Ramey also presented on her personal history with environmental organizations on and off campus. She spoke about Earthbound as well as the Sierra Club, an organization outside of the college which advocates for both local and widespread environmental issues. Later in the semester, all environmental campus groups will unite for Relay for Life as well come together in other ways to further the impact they can have on the campus.
The other presenters of the afternoon were Claire Brooks and Mackay Pierce who spoke about their recent spring break trip and the effects of mountaintop removal mining in the Roanoke Valley. This process is detrimental to the environment and is still legal in many states. Overall, all the presenters of the afternoon shared very tangible ways to get involved in environmental groups/environmental awareness on campus during the lunch block.