Anti-hydrofracking activists try to get students involved in movement

Mar 4, 2013

As the controversy over hydrofracking drags on in New York state, opponents of the drilling method are trying to get more college students involved in the debate.  NYPIRG project coordinator Nicole Saint James is recruiting students at Syracuse University to help put more pressure on Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

A film called "Dear Governor Cuomo," is the hook Nicole St. James of NYPIRG  is using to try and get more students to join the anti-fracking bandwagon.  She admits it can be a tough sell especially on a campus like Syracuse University.

"I've worked on this in both the community and on campus, and I've found that many students -- especially at Syracuse -- many students are [from] out of state, states that aren't dealing with this issue, [they] really don't know about it," said St. James.

SU Junior Carolyn Giordano wonders why more students aren't involved.

"It's surprising because hydrofracking is such a hot button in New York state.  But when you're on the college campus and stuff, they don't see what's going on outside the University," she said.
   
The movement on campus now focuses on Cuomo, with students joining letter writing campaigns, and making signs for protests.

"The entire direction of our campaign statewide is targeting the governor.  Becuase he is the only one who is making this decision.  Targeting each individual legislator wouldn't make a difference.  The governor holds all the cards in his hands.  He's the one who's in charge of the Department of Environmental Conservation ultimately, so that's why all our effort is going towards him."  

One thing that activists say could influence SU students is its proximity to SUNY ESF, with many environmental science students there  who are politically active. St. James hopes that fervor spreads.

"I believe that all students do have political concerns and issues that they care about. But I think that depending on the campus, students will only get involved if they see other students involved," she said.