Climate-striking students in New Paltz won’t have absences excused

Adults organizing the Students and Community Climate Strike in New Paltz last Friday wanted students’ absences to be excused if approved by a parent; echoing the process which trustees had approved for a similar event earlier this year. This time, however, they came away disappointed. Students who ducked out this time around would not be given a blanket free pass.

Trustees reaffirmed their support for young people working to combat climate change, but their decision hinged largely on the fact that this event appeared to have been entirely orchestrated by adults. They compared it to the gun-violence events held last year, the desire for which emerged from the student population; unlike the climate actions, the gun event was contained to school property and thoroughly scripted and controlled. Adult involvement this time included arranging to put this project at the DEC office rather than the library, to make it easier for high school students to get there safely; board members didn’t express confidence that South Putt Corners Road is a safe place to walk, despite shoulders being widened with that goal in mind.

Michael O’Donnell observed, “If you have permission, it’s not a strike.”