Students around the world have ditched their textbooks to participate in the Fridays for Future climate strike. Among these students was Professor Eireann Lorsung’s literature course.
Fridays for Future is a youth-led climate strike movement launched by 15-year-old Greta Thunberg in August 2018 after she launched a school climate strike.
According to the official Fridays for Future website, their mission is to “unite behind the science and make those in power take the facts seriously and act on it.”
Professor Lorsung said she believed a climate strike was sort of a symbolic gesture.
“At a time when we can feel deeply atomized and isolated, doing something – even in relative isolation – and knowing that others are doing this symbolic gesture as well is hopeful,” she said.
Lorsung encouraged students to join her in the strike during school hours on Friday, September 24 to test the theory that “literature matters.”
“I invited the class to participate or not; freely; no one lost the credit for missing class that day – partly so that people were free to make such a gesture, and partly so that people knew they weren’t doing it alone, ” Lorsung said.
Lorsung thinks that if literature matters, it cannot matter in the classroom alone because literature does not come from classrooms and, for the most part, it does not concern them.
“If literature matters, it will do something for us, for us and through us out there in the world as well as in the classroom,” she said. “I think literature has to be, and we have to understand that it is, closely linked to the real world, precious and complex shared which can sometimes seem totally separate from the classroom.”
Senior Paige O’Connor says she has never been in a climate strike before; however, she participated in several campus protests and strikes to support other important issues.
“Being on campus surrounded by other students fighting the same battle feels safe, and there is strength in so many,” she said. “It’s one of those activities that allows students to step outside of their comfort zone to try and protect something that matters to them. “
O’Connor also stressed that change has to start somewhere to be effective.
“It can be very difficult for one person or dozens to tell the difference, but it all starts somewhere. We have to stand up for what we believe in and if that means you’re uncomfortable, do it anyway. Change is a beautiful thing, and that’s what this campus needs, ”she said.
Although not enrolled in the class, Kylie Rae Torres, president of the first year class, joined the group after hearing about the strike from a friend.
“I felt it was my duty as first year president to support such a cause, especially as I wholeheartedly support the fight against climate change,” Torres said.
Both Torres and O’Connor said the strike opened their eyes, but not entirely for good reason.
“It was a very eye-opening experience to see how many people were deliberately avoiding our group of students,” Torres said.
O’Connor also said people appeared to be doing everything possible to avoid any interaction with the group.
Although seemingly a small gesture, strikes like Friday’s pave the way for difficult conversations and awareness.
“I think some of the ways that students can drive more change on campus are by doing more walkouts and protests, using social media platforms to educate and raise awareness, taking the time to learn at your own pace. and get more people involved, ”Torres said. .