University of Connecticut students and faculty marched in Hartford as part of the March for Science movement that spanned the globe Saturday.
“The March for Science was a celebrating of the utility of science in our civic life given that science has helped us improve people’s health, produced technology that has improved people’s quality of life and builds whole new economies,” said Dr. Margaret Rubega, an associate professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UConn, who attended the march.
In light of the Trump Administration’s professed plans to cut funding to scientific research through the channels of multiple agencies, as well as the general existence of those who deny the accuracy of scientific knowledge, the March for Science organizers created the nonpartisan event on Earth Day in the same vein as the Women’s March.
Tully Frain, a fourth-semester Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Animal Science double major, said he attended the march with friends to display his appreciation for everything science does to better people’s lives.
“The big thing is we just don’t believe science should be a political issue,” Frain said, “It’s something that should be easily funded and not something that should be fought over in a congressional house.”
Despite the rainy weather, the crowd was cheerful and enthusiastic.
“The atmosphere was cheerful despite the fact it was raining on everybody,” Rubega said, “It was clear people felt happy to be in a big crowd of people who understood the value of science as a way to understand the world.”
Rubega said many people had a jocular attitude at the march, toting humorous signs such as “Got Polio? Me Neither,” to display their attitudes about the value of science.
Frain said he was impressed by the turnout for the local march.
“It was very exciting, it was very rainy, but they had an amazing turnout, it was really fantastic to see such a great turnout of people wanting to support science,” Frain said.
Speakers such as Senator Richard Blumenthal and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman gave speeches at the march in support of science.
“There were some really great speakers, they gave amazing speeches to support science polices across the country,” Frain said.
Dr. Xiuchun Tian, an Animal Science professor at UConn, said she was glad to see so many children at the march.
“That’s what’s really encouraging to me, that parents are bringing their children to these events and encouraging them to support science,” Tian said, “That’s the most important thing, because that’s the future of our country and [of] science.”
Rubega said, while she does not believe a single march will dramatically alter the administration’s policies regarding science, hopefully people will take inspiration from the march and work to affect political change through other avenues.
“I don’t think a single march can create change, I think what marches are, [are] a central event that gives people a reason to organize themselves,” Rubega said, “From there, choosing to go on and engage in actions that influence the democratic process, that creates change at the legislative level, is what happens next.”
Tian said she attended the march to promote a rejection of the culture of scientific misinformation spread that is at the heart of the political controversy.
“This march is more about the potential cut and how this administration views science, the problem is much wider than that,” Tian said, “I think the administration is victims of misinformation, that’s how they make decisions, based on their limited knowledge, and if we take care of that more-widespread problem, the administration will be a part of that.”
Tian said she believes science needs to continue to be supported due to its crucial role in shaping the future.
“This is the future of the planet, our health, our way of life,” Tian said.
Frain said he viewed the march as a way for people to demonstrate their understanding of the value of science in their lives.
“I think science changes lives, it saves lives, it changes the world around us, it makes life easier better,” Frain said, “People aren’t recognizing its value in society, and so we wanted to make that very clear that it is valued by us.”
Rubega said she found the large-scale turnout for the march to be a reassuring sign.
“I think that the fact that people turned out to march all over the world, and the size of the turnout says something I believed anyway: there’s good support for science, people understand, that science helps improve their lives,” Rubega said.