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UMaine sees large turnout for March for Science

University of Maine Students and Orono residents marched around campus on Saturday for the March For Science. The event is part of the nation-wide March for Science event that took place in cities and at universities across the country on Earth Day.

The goal of the March is to “defend the vital role science plays in our health, safety, economies, and governments… ” the March for Science’s website stated.

The main rally was in Washington, D.C., where marchers demanded scientific evidence based policy. There were over 600 satellite marches around the world. Thousands turned out for marches in Boston, New York and Los Angeles.

UMaine’s chapter of the march “was spurred by recent changes in national discourse that have led to the devaluation of science and critical thinking. However, it is not a protest against any individual or political party,” UMaine’s March for Science site stated.

Students, faculty and citizens gathered on the Mall in front of Fogler Library for a rally in which professional scientists shared their experiences on how science is important today.

Dr. Tom Keller, Executive Director of the Maine STEM Council, drew cheers from the crowd when he asked, “Is anyone else here worried about the National Science Foundation?” referring to the government agency which would face budget cuts under the Trump administration’s 2018 budget.

After the rally, students and local residents marched in 40 degree temperatures and light rains, down the Mall, east on Long Road, south on Gannett Road and then west on Belgrade Road, making a loop back to the union.

Marchers held signs with clever phrases in support of STEM. Although the rally is officially nonpartisan, “Make America Smart Again” and other signs poking fun at the current administration were common.

Amber Hathaway, an astronomy and physics doctoral candidate, was one of the organizers of the event.

“We’ve seen so many advances particularly in medical technology in the past hundred years…it has so much potential to make our future even better. Unfortunately, if we don’t fund science and don’t take it seriously, then we can’t make improvements in our society and we might even lose some of the progress we’ve made,” Hathaway said.

The rally kicks off a “Week of Action,” which March for Science has planned for April 23-29. The plan suggests science related activities, such as Sunday’s podcast hosted by the taste of science festival at Carnegie Institute, registering for the Environmental Voter Pledge and attending the people’s climate march.

Hannah Townsend, a high school student from Bangor, attended the March for Science rally to encourage people to get involved in STEM, especially women who currently only comprise 29 percent of STEM jobs, according to the National Girls Collaborative Project.

“It’s good to empower women to get involved in STEM, research and science, because it’s great to have more equality. I think it’s great to encourage more science for everybody,” Townsend said.

The march ended on the Memorial Union steps at the end of Belgrade Road. where the marchers celebrated with cheering and posing for photos.

“Give me an E” echoed a voice, to which the crowd obliged.

“What does that equal?” replied the voice.

“MC squared,” replied the mass, before the voices broke into laughter.

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