ITHACA, N.Y. — Over 500 people gathered in the Ithaca Commons on Saturday afternoon to participate in Ithaca’s March for Science.
The rally was a branch of the first national March for Science, which took place in Washington D.C. today. Organizers of the national event said in their mission statement that the march aimed to “champion and defend science and scientific integrity.”
“It is a small step in the process of encouraging the application of science in policy. We understand that the most effective way to protect science is to encourage the public to value and invest in it,” the mission statement reads.
Gina Mason, an organizer for the local rally, said planning for Ithaca’s March for Science began in a grassroots fashion after the national event first started being publicized.
“Overall, the March for Science is an opportunity for all community members to discuss and advocate for accessible and publicly communicated science, as well as the use of science findings to inform public policy,” Mason said. “it provides scientists and researchers with the opportunity to reach out to the broader community in an inclusive way.”
Tristan MacLean, a co-organizer of the rally, shared similar sentiments to Mason, and said he hoped the march would encourage people to join together for the purposes of discussing science and its role in everyday life.
“I hope people leave at the end of the day with an enthusiasm to be involved in science, a renewed conviction of its importance in our society and the willingness and drive to champion the benefits of evidence-based policy in governance,” MacLean said.
Both MacLean and Mason hoped that the rally would act as a starting point for a continuing dialogue, encouraging scientists and citizens to communicate the importance of science to policymakers.
“On both the left and the right there have been indications that some people want to sideline evidence when it comes to making policy,” MacLean said. “You would be horrified if a judge decided that evidence was not important to making decisions in a courtroom. So why should we allow politicians to make really important decisions for our society and ignore the evidence?”
However, while the march was largely politicized, there were motivations to celebrate science which reached beyond politics.
“It’s the biggest Science March in history,” MacLean explained. “There will be millions of people around the world marching at over 500 locations on six continents.”
Mason added, “it is really the opportunity for everyone, inclusive of all races, religions, sexual orientations, gender identities, socio-economic and immigration statuses, ages, abilities, and political ideologies to join together and stand in support of science and science education and evidence-based policy.”