Chico Science March draws thousands


Floritzel Salvador

A marcher is seen chanting and holding his sign that reads: Make America Smart Again. Science! Photo credit: Floritzel Salvador

An estimated 2,500 to 3,000 people filled Trinity Commons to march for science April 22.

Like the other 600 other demonstrations happening worldwide, Chico’s March for Science brought professors, students and activists together to show their support of science.

Two Chico State professors, Rebecca Brunelli and LaDawn Haws, organized Chico’s March for Science.

Brunelli first heard of the March for Science over Facebook and thought Chico should have one. The biology professor came across Haws who was already planning a Chico march.

Becki Brunelli enjoyed every minute of Chico’s March for Science. She paid out of pocket to help with the march’s funding Photo credit: Floritzel Salvador

Haws found out about the worldwide marches through the news. The mathematics and statistics professor checked the list of cities participating in the marches and saw Chico among them.

“We’re a really good team,” Brunelli said “We work really well with other. Just between the two of us, we got all the bases covered.”

The main March for Science organization provided the Chico march with resources for diversity, press releases and communication, according to Brunelli. She said all the leaders of the marches communicated through a slack group to assure cohesion between all the marches. Brunelli and Haws also received advice from the leaders of Chico’s Women’s March, on what worked and didn’t during that demonstration.

“We’ve been forced to meet a lot of people to make this happen,” Haws said “What I’m saying is you can’t do anything by yourself. We had to meet other people to volunteer and it’s great because their love of science is this unifying thing.”

Volunteers began setting up science booths for the march Saturday morning at Trinity Commons. The 33 booths were meant to show the benefits of science. Some of them were hosted by Chico State’s science departments and students. The booth by the Society of Physics wanted to show how a person can find physics in their daily lives.

“I’m participating in the science march because I believe science is all around us and it needs to be supported not only by the government but community in general,” Physics major and President of the Society of Physics Lisa Pham said. “Science tries to explain nature. It tries to explain what’s going on with our bodies, our psychology if you go into social science. It really goes into the technology that helps our everyday lives. I wear glasses and contact lens. I could not see without science.”

Brunelli gave a brief introduction to the march around noon before speakers came to explain the importance of science. Chico City Council member Andrew Coolidge got up and read Mayor Sean Morgan’s proclamation in support of the science march.

Mayor Sean Morgan’s proclamation on Chico’s March For Science Photo credit: From March for Science Chico’s Facebook Page

Chico State biology professor Gordon Wolfe said one of the goals of the science marches was to promote diversity in the field and being a pale skin male scientist he was not helping with that.

Gordon Wolfe has a fun with what would Neil Degrasse Tyson say Photo credit: Floritzel Salvador

“Lately I’ve had my mind blow every day in a different way every time I see the news and see if a politician is bad mouthing science,” Wolfe said. “Some of the founding fathers and framers of the constitution like Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were also leading scientists of their day.”

During his speech, Wolfe said people might not know scientists are small businesses owners. They must manage labs, keep books and make purchases. This would not be possible without the support of federal grants and the taxpayers, according to Wolfe.

“Scientific research is the engine of our economy,” Wolfe said. “Without publicly funded science, we would not have high-tech. We wouldn’t have biotech. We wouldn’t have green-tech. We wouldn’t have the web.”

The march began at Trinity Commons and made its way to the City Plaza through West Second and Broadway streets. Cars honked in support as demonstrators chanted “two, four, six, eight, science makes you calculate” and “Hey, Hey, Hey-Ho. We won’t let Science go!”

Photo credit: From March for Science Chico’s Facebook Page

Brunelli said the march exceeded her expectations. She hopes this demonstration will inspire not only future marches but a movement in support for science.

“It was a real unknown how many people would show up,” Brunelli said. “I’m so inspired and motivated and just so excited that so many people came out in support of science It really shows people know science is important.”

George Johnston can be reached at [email protected] or @gjohnston786 on Twitter.