US representative asks NU students to act on climate change


Daily file photo by Kelly Gonsalves

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Evanston, speaks at an Evanston panel in 2013. The U.S. representative returned on Friday to vouch for climate justice at a Northwestern student rally.

Darby Hopper, Reporter

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Evanston, addressed Northwestern students Friday, imploring them to fight against climate change during a rally on the Norris East Lawn.

The event was part of the national Know Tomorrow climate change awareness campaign that hosted a national National Day of Action on 60 college campuses Friday. Schakowsky kicked off the event, which had about 50 attendees, as the first speaker.

“I’m sorry, but the action you’re looking for will probably not, in the very near term, come from the Congress of the United States,” Schakowsky said. “It is much more likely to come from here on this campus at Northwestern University.”

In an interview with The Daily, Schakowsky reflected upon her experiences in the 60s and 70s advocating for supermarkets to put expiration dates on food. She said one of the best benefits of activism is how fun it is to “be a little subversive sometimes.”

“Voting is part of it, but the drumbeat, it has to be relentless,” Schakowsky told The Daily. “Change comes when people finally push hard enough for it, and it’s got to come from young people, it just does. The 21st century is your century.”

The congresswoman said at the event that Know Tomorrow fights for climate change awareness because “tomorrow is now.”

“I had participated in the first Earth Day in the 70s, and it initiated a wave of legislation,” Schakowsky said. “The second wave has to be now.”

The event also featured speeches from an NU student and professor, as well as Henry Henderson, the director of the National Resources Defense Council’s Midwest chapter, and Blu, a slam poet from Young Chicago Authors.

Each speaker focused on a different environmental issue. Chemistry Prof. Dick Co spoke about building a greener world through innovation.

“I liked how he talked about green technology as a way to close the carbon loop, not only to provide people in less developed areas more opportunities and more human rights, but also as a way to affect climate change,” Weinberg senior Laila Hayani told The Daily after the event. “People often see climate change and human rights as two different, totally exclusive things from each other, but they’re really interrelated.”

McCormick junior Yue Zeng, who spoke about the impact of smog and pollution in her native country, China, told The Daily she wants to do everything she can to help her home. She said no matter where they’re from, all humans call Earth home.

“We’re all on the same ship,” she said.

Rachel Frazin contributed reporting.

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