Students fast for climate change awareness after typhoon

In the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, University students are joining a nationwide effort to raise awareness of climate change.

Hailey Colwell

University of Minnesota students and alumni joined eight other Minnesota colleges and more than 75 schools nationwide Friday in a day of fasting to raise awareness about climate change in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.

The typhoon, which hit the Philippines on Nov. 8 and is known as Yolanda there, spurred an international protest headed by Philippines climate change commissioner Naderev Saño. He announced Nov. 11 during United Nations climate talks in Warsaw that he would fast until a “meaningful outcome is in sight.”

Students fasted throughout the week — some just during the daytime, others for full days — in solidarity with Saño’s protest.

University political science freshman Alex Vagac joined students in the Mayo Memorial Building’s meditation room Friday afternoon for a candlelight vigil in support of Saño and typhoon victims.

She said it’s significant that University students are taking part in this global event to raise awareness of climate change.

“This is our generation’s future,” she said.

Though it’s difficult to link a single storm to climate change, rising sea levels are a concern for sea-bound nations like the Philippines, Carleton College freshman Sam Neubauer said.

University students joined students at Carleton, Macalester College, Gustavus Adolphus College and others nationwide to demand several national and international climate policy changes.

The students want President Barack Obama to deny a permit to the Keystone XL pipeline. They’re also calling on the Environmental Protection Agency for stricter limits on power plant emissions.

Gustavus senior Anna McDevitt said she watched the fast spread via social media from students who attended the U.N. climate change conference in Warsaw — where Saño announced his fast — to East Coast colleges and then to the Midwest.

Neubauer said dozens of Carleton students sat in a school dining hall Friday with empty plates in front of them to spark conversations about their fast.

Family social science senior Alyssa Woodard said the statement the students were making was peaceful but powerful.

“It’s very personal,” she said. “You’re doing something with your body.”


The Associated Press contributed to this report.