Gusties to Take Part in People’s Climate March in NYC

Posted on September 18th, 2014 by

People's Climate March

Kyle Maloney ’15, Mackenzie Brill ’15, Nicole Ektnitphong ’15, and Courtney Train ’15 are four of the nine Gusties who will attend the People’s Climate March this weekend (Photo by Nick Theisen ’15).

Just two and a half weeks into the academic year, nine Gustavus Adolphus College students have been busy organizing and preparing to make a trip to New York City for the People’s Climate March on Sunday, Sept. 21. The group of Gustavus students will join more than 1,400 partnering organizations at the march, including businesses, unions, religious groups, environmental groups, schools, social justice groups, and more to collectively stand up for environmental justice.

The People’s Climate March (PCM) is a national event where people will flood the streets of New York to peacefully express their shared belief in the need for collaborative methods of addressing global climate change. The March has been timed to coincide with the United Nations Climate Summit, which will be held in New York two days later on Sept. 23. Solidarity events have also been planned across the globe to show world leaders that there is international demand for definitive commitments to make necessary changes for environmental justice and equality.

Senior Nicole Ektnitphong ’15 learned about the People’s Climate March from her network of student organizers, whom she met during the Keystone XL Dissent last spring in Washington, D.C. She stepped into a primary organizing role for PCM because she sees this opportunity as something all members of the Gustavus community should be aware of, especially students.

“People’s Climate March is a chance for us as students to live beyond the Gustavus community and really be engaged in the world around us, which I like to think Gustavus tries to cultivate in our education and our time here,” Ektnitphong said.

Fellow senior Mackenzie Brill ’15 was drawn into the organizing process as a result of the commitment to community she shares with fellow students and faculty on campus as well as to the world around her.

“Organizing is where it all starts. A few people share a common goal and are able to rally around this crazy idea of going out to New York for this march and, knowing Gusties and their commitment to this issue and to each other and to their community, I knew that we would have interest in People’s Climate March,” Brill said.

The organizing work for events of this nature demand a lot of energy but have significant impacts which keep student leaders motivated. “It has been really fulfilling to get together with other student organizers because it’s this chance to create something and translate that into opportunities for other students,” Ektnitphong said. “That’s really unique.”

Jim Dontje, Director of Gustavus’s Johnson Center for Environmental Innovation and faculty advisor for the Gustavus Greens, has been working with student organizers for past and present events alike and is often in awe of how much students step up to lead.

“The organizing effort for events such as PCM cannot be the project of any one person,” Dontje said. “We all have to own it, and one of the things I’ve seen with the student organizing efforts around PCM is that they have been student lead and student planned, but they reach out for support when needed.”

The early goal of the student organizers was to inform students and provide the opportunity for them to travel to New York for PCM, but the group also remains focused on what comes after September 21st.

“By participating in PCM I hope students will discover their power,” Brill said. “We don’t realize how much power we do have and what can be done when we use it. I have a lot of faith in people coming together, uniting for the exact same reason even when they come from all different walks of life.”

Ektnitphong knows that the opportunity to connect with so many people at PCM will have a huge impact on each individual attending the march and could also influence the environmental justice movement on the Gustavus campus.

“People’s Climate March will hopefully be remembered in history as the largest climate march and to know that Gustavus students are going to be a part of that is really exciting.”


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


One Comment

  1. Michael Haeuser says:


    How will these students, and the others attending the event, travel to New York? Has the national or Minnesota PCM chartered buses, planes or trains so as to limit the use of fossil fuels to reach the gathering? Just trying to understand the logistics of this demonstration. Thank you.

    Michael Haeuser
    Emeritus Faculty.