As a college, Rollins promotes global citizenship and responsible leadership, valuing social responsibility and community above all else. On Saturday, April 22 at Lake Eola Park, the Orlando community will gather to participate in a March for Science event. The DeLucia twins, Alyssa and Alexandra ‘18, are currently some of the students spearheading Rollins’ participation at the event. EcoRollins is also gathering students to participate in the Earth Day celebration that will be taking place immediately after the March for Science.
The DeLucias explain, “The March for Science stands for science literacy for all. The official mission tackles many issues, such as diversity in STEM, improvement in STEM education, use of science in policymaking, funding for diverse research, and non-restriction of scientific publication in government agencies.” The March for Science hopes to protest decreased funding of government-based research, in correlation to proposed budget cuts of research-based agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. “This is fearsome, since the way to kill an agency is not through actually removing the agency, it is through throttling their budget until it becomes powerless and therefore, useless.” These proposed budget cuts can have national repercussions, potentially arresting progress and calling America’s reputation among the international sphere into question—especially because empirical data is often necessary in order to promote informed policymaking.
The significance of promoting STEM literacy and diversity through attempts like the March for Science can have resounding influences across multiple industries.
Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society (SAACS), the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), and EcoRollins are promoting Rollins’ presence at the event and organizing student attendance; all students are encouraged to attend. It is easy to undervalue the influence of science in our society, but “this trend of sidelining science and evidence in policymaking and education is not restricted to affecting science majors. This trend affects everyone. Without considering evidence before enacting regulations for industries, the government is doing people an injustice.”
Whether they are controversies regarding GMOs or stem cell research, misunderstandings and miscommunication continue to spur moral controversies and halt progress. Furthermore, central issues such as climate change continue to be overlooked—despite empirical evidence—because of a lack of consistent scientific literacy.
As college students, we are directly affected by changes the Trump administration is proposing. Alexandra DeLucia discusses, “After I received my SULI acceptance, I was devastated when I learned of the proposed budget cuts. I feared that my summer experience as well as my (hopeful) dream of working at the lab after graduation was being diminished through slashing budgets. I was informed that Los Alamos was ‘safe’ from budget cuts since it is primarily a defense lab, unlike other, smaller labs which focus on other subjects, such as renewable energy. This news calmed my concern about my lab, but still disturbed me. Why should the other labs’ funding be cut just because their research is not directly applied to testing nuclear missiles or other defense weapons?”
The scientific research community extends its interests and its reach to a wide-range of disciplines, ranging from health to environmental studies and defense; but, one cannot arguably value one facet of scientific research over another. After all, when weapons defense research efforts are spearheaded over enhanced medical research, a question of innate human morals also comes into play. Climate change should not be an individual or even national concern, but a global initiative—and ignoring the facts only serves to promote even more severe long-term repercussions.
Alyssa DeLucia, who recently was awarded the prestigious science-based Goldwater research scholarship, raised another concern, “In addition to a desire for informed policymaking, the initiative also supports STEM education. Even if you are not majoring in STEM, there is definitely a need for understanding science and math concepts…[Science] is generally the one general education requirement that is pushed off till the last semester. I want America’s public school system to improve the way science and math is taught in schools so people are no longer apprehensive of the sciences and immerse themselves in the world of research-backed problem solving and exploring that I love so dearly.”
Rather than decrease funding, it is necessary that scientific information becomes more readily available to the overarching community and policymakers. Ultimately, a greater communication between efforts of government scientists and the press, through organized events such as the March for Science, can potentially accomplish increased awareness and encourage a more informed and scientifically literate populace. Rollins professors and students have been very receptive to the idea of organizing a Rollins presence at the event. All students are invited and encouraged to attend, and efforts to arrange for transportation are already being arranged by multiple organizations across campus. Come out and have your voice be heard!