What we know about March for Science Austin

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Photo Credit: Melanie Westfall | Daily Texan Staff

Austin protesters are trading out their pink hats for volumetric flasks.

Shortly after the global women’s march in January, protesters started planning another large scale protest: the science march.  The march, which evolved from a Reddit conversation, is now scheduled to occur in major cities such as Washington, Boston and Austin. All of the marches will take place on Earth Day, April 22.

Austin’s March for Science is in very early planning stages. Liz Hostetler, senior project manager at software company Compliance Manager, co-founded the Austin March for Science movement through Facebook and Twitter. Hostetler said the march is a non-partisan movement to advocate for policies that align with scientific research.

“The march is more important than politics. Anything that we address is more policy related and not red versus blue,” Hostetler said. “For me personally if we can just show more engagement with science in the community then I think we will see improvement.”

She added that the march will not attack Trump or any particular person but rather serves to acknowledge the validity of scientific facts.

Hostetler said although March for Science is not centered on any specific scientific field, climate change will be a main topic. UT geology professor Kerry Cook, who attended the women’s march and plans to attend the March for Science, said she is very concerned about how recent government policies are affecting Americans and other people around the world.

“I think (the march) will draw attention to the fact that sometimes policy decisions are not made taking scientific fact into account,” Cook said. “The more attention we can draw to that the better.”

Cook added that restrictions to international travel and immigration could harm the quality of U.S. research.

“The recent policy on immigration is extremely detrimental for scientific process because we have wonderful scientists coming from all over the world,” Cook said. “It is already interfering with that.”

Hostetler said one of the main goals for the March for Science Austin is diversity. She said that while the women’s march was successful, one of the main criticisms was that the majority of participants were white women.

Hostetler said she hopes to draw a more varied crowd by depoliticizing the march and encouraging scientists of all disciplines as well as non-scientists to attend.

“I feel like this could be a huge unifier because science is such a large thing,” Hostetler said. “I think we can get a lot of inclusion and diversity...we need to get more people interested in science, it’s not scary.”

“March for Science organizers are still working out details of the event, Hostetler said. They currently have received no fundraising, she added, and still need to apply for permits and plan meet up events prior to the march to spur community involvement. Hostetler said a website for the march will be active soon and T-shirts made.

Hostetler said the march will likely begin at the Capitol and end at Huston-Tillotson University, where an “Earth Day Austin” event is taking place.

Biology sophomore Margot Deatherage said she is in the process of getting UT science clubs, such as the Natural Sciences Council and pre-med societies, involved in the march. Deatherage said she became interested in the march after learning about actions that limited science-related organizations such as the Environmental Protection Agency, on which Trump inflicted a media ban starting Jan. 24.

“I believe that when science and the spread of scientific information is blocked, it will lead to the stagnation of that society,” Deatherage said. “The biggest issue is that people who have never studied science believe they can dictate what information is being talked about. It happens on both sides. It’s being used to further a politician’s advancement, not the society’s.”