Columbia University climate activist group launches hunger strike

Members of the Columbia University chapter of the climate activist organization called Extinction Rebellion have gone on a hunger strike that began on Monday. Students participating in the hunger strike have started a sit-in occupying the university’s Butler Library.

Image: Al Jazeera

The organization delivered a letter to Columbia’s president, Lee Bollinger, outlining their demands on the Friday prior to the strike. The students will abstain from food from Nov. 18 to Nov. 22 unless the Ivy League institution accepts the conditions outlined in the letter.

In the letter, the activists demand that the university accepts and acknowledges climate change as a global crisis, that immediate action is taken by the administration to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2025, and that the university create an assembly of members of students, faculty, administrators, shareholders and members of the surrounding community to enact a binding resolution to net-zero emissions from the university.

Four students in total are participating in the hunger strike and library sit-in. Similar strikes and acts of protest are taking place across the globe. The Columbia chapter last month occupied the university’s administration building in an effort to send a message to the administration declaring their purpose.

Extinction Rebellion as a movement has grown to a large number of chapters throughout the world, all relaying the same message. According to their website:

“We are facing an unprecedented global emergency. Life on Earth is in crisis: scientists agree we have entered a period of abrupt climate breakdown, and we are in the midst of a mass extinction of our own making.”

Extinction Rebellion is a part of a much larger wave of environmental activism and protest happening globally, as populations around the world feel the effects of the earth’s rising temperatures on their lives. The United Nations’ 2018 Climate Report paints a dark picture for the future if things continue the way they are. The strikers at Columbia are not only looking to raise awareness of how their university contributes to climate change, but to force the administration into action, too.

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