Protesters rallied around the globe this past weekend in the March for Science, taking aim at so-called “alternative facts” and supporting researchers whose findings are based on evidence.
Among those taking to the streets in support of scientists were many folks from Oberlin and Wellington.
Chemistry professor Rob Thompson estimated as many as 80 Oberlin College students journeyed by bus and carpool to Cleveland, where thousands filled Public Square. A contingency from Kendal at Oberlin also joined the march.
“People were in a good mood,” he said. “Everyone was yelling and clapping.”
The march there lasted about an hour and took science fans along a mile-long route. Thompson said the goal was to spread awareness of how much science does for so many, providing clean water, medicine, crime analysis, and climate warnings.
While the march was intended to be bipartisan, many feel science is not being properly used to make decisions in the “current scene in Washington,” Thompson said. As evidence, he pointed to the elimination of the Great Lakes cleanup funds under President Donald Trump’s proposed budget.
The Trump budget calls for $12.6 billion in cuts to the Department of Health and Human Services, including $5.8 billion from the National Institutes of Health.
Traditionally, scientists have tried to stay apolitical, he said: “But if people aren’t listening to the facts, you have to become political.”
Thompson, who has taught at Oberlin since 1982, said this was the first time he felt it necessary to join a march.
Jessika Petersen, organizer of an Indivisible chapter that meets biweekly at First United Methodist Church in Wellington, traveled to the march with six other members of the group.
“The biggest reason for the March for Science, in my view, was climate change, but it’s also about protecting the Earth in general,” she said. “It was on Earth Day for a reason. The speakers at the march in Cleveland were very inclusive of any party. Science isn’t party-affiliated. Anybody can be here. In regard to politics, the current administration was brought up because of defunding so much of the research with the EPA and other programs. The speaker’s didn’t say Trump’s name, but the message was there.”
High school science teacher Ali Woods traveled with Petersen.
“We look to science to give us answers,” she said. “We shouldn’t look to it and ask how to get the answer we want to hear. That’s not what it’s meant for. You look to peer reviews and empirical evidence and work with your true results.”
Jason Hawk and Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @EditorHawk and @DelozierNews on Twitter.