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Environmental activism organization holds protest, Evans Hall sit-in; meeting scheduled with OU officials

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Climate Strike

OU students and activists protest climate change in a strike hosted by the Environmental Justice Coalition of Oklahoma on the South Oval and in Evans Hall Nov. 7.

For more than three hours, anyone attempting to enter or leave the president’s office was met with a few dozen protesters advocating more environmentally friendly university policies.

OU students participated in a march and sit-in for the climate strike at the office of the president in Evans Hall on Nov. 7. The Environmental Justice Coalition of Oklahoma held a march down the South Oval before transitioning to a sit-in outside interim OU President Joseph Harroz’s Evans Hall office.

Environmental Justice Coalition of Oklahoma co-founder Gant Roberson was one of the event's main organizers and said action has to be taken.

“Our generation is being forced to pick up the pieces of previous generations, and we have very little time to take meaningful action on a global scale before it is too late to prevent climate change,” Roberson said.

Other parts of the world are already suffering from the effects of climate change, Roberson said, and change must start at OU before climate change progresses further.

The group presented a list of demands to the university, sectioned off by financial demands, social demands and sustainability demands. The demands included renaming buildings named after oil and gas companies and mandating game-day food and landscaping techniques, according to a document the group distributed during the sit-in.

Other demands included more vegan and vegetarian food options and using low or no water with landscaping, Environmental Justice Coalition of Oklahoma co-founder Matt Salcido said.

The group stayed in the office until Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Assistant Dean of Students Brynn Daves set up a series of meetings with the heads “over executive affairs, over operations, over development and all the areas (that concerned the group)” after over three hours of protesting.

The protesters are scheduled to meet with OU officials Nov. 11.

“Today a group held a peaceful protest in Evans Hall,” said OU Director of Media Relations Kesha Keith in a Nov. 7 email. “The group issued a list of demands related to both the oil and gas industry and the university’s sustainability efforts for attention and response. Productive dialogue between members of the group and OU officials resulted in a plan for a meeting with OU executives.”

Roberson said he sees this as one step in their journey and discussed ultimately taking this issue to the state and national levels.

“Our action is going to continue to be disruptive until all of these institutions are held accountable for their actions and begin to take real steps to prevent climate change,” Roberson said.

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