Eda Naz Gokdemir
Interview: Environmental Activism at Dartmouth
This week I am introducing you to Grace Hillery: an environmental activist with the Sunrise Movement, and my floormate who once asked me if I wanted to do the fifty-mile hike at 12:30 am. Keep reading if you want to learn more about Grace´s Dartmouth journey and the environmental organizations at Dartmouth!
Why did you choose Dartmouth?
Location. I grew up in the outdoors so it is great being surrounded by New England scenery. Also, we are in the second state to go through the primary process and the presidential elections, so a lot of presidential candidates and political figures come here. Being able to see them in person and have face-to-face interactions with them is priceless.
What are you involved with on campus?
I´m involved in a bunch of environmental organizations, like Cabin and Trail, and the Environmental Stewardship Division, which are sub-clubs of the Dartmouth Outing Club. I´m a member of YDSA (Young Democratic Socialists of America) and the Sunrise Movement at Dartmouth. I´m also in the running club when I have time. There are so many clubs here, you find too many things you want to do, but there are only 168 hours a week so you can´t fit them all in.
How is protesting at Dartmouth different from high school?
A lot of people here genuinely care about these big global issues, so it is easier to mobilize people. Through our diverse backgrounds, we have all seen how climate change affects us. That´s why people want to take action, while back home, in your traditional high school, people might not be as invested or aware of these issues. There is definitely a big environmental concern here. When you are surrounded by Hanover and how beautiful everything is, you want to protect that.
What is your role in organizing protests at Dartmouth?
I´ve only been at Dartmouth for a month, but right now I am running the finance and social media departments alongside Kate Yeo for Sunrise Dartmouth. At our Sunrise meetings, everyone is welcome to give their input, so I'm looking forward to helping plan more demonstrations on campus with Sunrise. It doesn´t matter even if you´ve never heard of Sunrise, you can still show up to our meetings to share your ideas and we´ll brainstorm together.
Challenges of protesting at Dartmouth?
How busy everyone is. Asking people to give up their activities to join a protest can be challenging because we´re all ambitious people and have a lot of things we are passionate about.
The best part about protesting at Dartmouth?
I´ve met a lot of people who are genuinely interested in hearing different perspectives, which can make protesting and activism really rewarding because you are able to engage in thoughtful and civil discussion without it devolving into name-calling and pointless arguing. Also, President Hanlon came to one of our protests!
What are you looking forward to the most?
Doing the Fifty Mile Hike! Also, seeing where the Sunrise and Dartmouth will take me.
What are your favorite outdoor activities and spaces?
Sunrikes are underrated. Organized by the Dartmouth Outing Club, sunrikes are a special kind of hiking trip where you get to see the sunrise at the end. It´s incredible to see Hanover scenery with all the leaves changing colors at sunrise. I also love going to Pine Park, which is a ninety-acre forest of pine trees that are more than 100 years old.
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