Seeking a club on campus for the end of the world? A new group on campus is forming to stop it from happening in the first place.
Enter Extinction Rebellion PSU, a campus-wide sector of the global Extinction Rebellion movement for environmental change. Founded in Nov. 2019, the goal of the group is to bring the larger movement to Portland State students and advocate for governmental action to avoid biodiversity loss, climate change and eventually the extinction of the human race.
The greater Extinction Rebellion has become known for its acts of civil disobedience which—despite their goal of being non-violent—aim to be disruptive to people’s daily lives in order to draw attention to the issue of climate change. Created in the United Kingdom in 2018, the group is defined by the demands it makes of global governments: to tell the truth about the current climate crisis, to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse emissions to net zero by 2025 and to be led by a “citizen’s assembly” on decisions regarding climate, according to its website.
While it is a global movement, however, there is no central body, according to Will Regan, the lead organizer for Extinction Rebellion PSU. This allows anyone to start their own branch, including groups in Portland and on campus.
“There’s a lot of different ways you can organize an extinction rebellion,” Regan said. “It’s decentralized. Anybody can act as an extinction rebellion, if they abide by the principles. That’s really what makes extinction rebellion run, is this decentralization. There’s no higher authority.”
“Nobody told me, ‘Hey Will, go start this club at [PSU].’ I did that on my own.”
Regan first started with Extinction Rebellion PDX in June, where the group held one of its largest demonstrations: shutting down 4th Ave in front of City Hall, along with a bright yellow fire truck to draw attention to wildfires as one of the biggest threats to climate change.
“Portland was one of the cities that jumped onto it, and then they did several actions in 2019, culminating in a really big action where they blocked the street in front of City Hall with a giant fire engine.” Regan explained, “I was kind of nervous at that point.”
Members of the group also hold smaller events in between the biggest ones, including swarms, where 10-20 Extinction Rebellion advocates gather with banners to stop traffic, blocking the street for a couple of traffic light cycles before leaving and eventually doing the same again.
For any of their events, Regan stressed both the importance of remaining non-violent, but also, what group’s responsibilities are.
“We take responsibility for our actions. So, if we deface property or break a window—which is not our normal thing, right, normally we don’t do stuff like that—but if we do, we take responsibility for it, and we might even fix it ourselves.”
For the group on campus, however, they are more focused on outreach, education and being the introduction into the Extinction Rebellion for students. The club has already hosted multiple climate talks on campus with more planned for next month.
Below the shield:
The next climate talk event will be at 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 13 in FMH 230.