As people all over the world marched in support of science Saturday, hundreds turned out for a rally at Virginia Tech to stand in solidarity.
Marchers said the demonstration is not about any particular politician or party. They said they were sending a message to all lawmakers.
“I think that what we’ve seen really since this last election, but what’s been going on for many years, is an erosion of a belief in science,” said Donna Riley, who attended the rally.
As the interim department head of engineering education at Virginia Tech, Riley said she wants to see more fact-based policy from lawmakers in areas like climate change and infrastructure.
“What can I tell young engineers that want to go into this profession if what they do is never going to see the light of day and never going to result in real changes for people?” she said.
“Everything is political, can be,” said Margaret Breslau, chair of the Coalition for Justice. “But research is never partisan.”
Breslau, who helped organize the march in Blacksburg, said the rally is political but not partisan.
Many demonstrators are worried about proposed budget cuts by the Trump administration to agencies like the National Institutes for Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But many said support for science has been lacking for years.
“It doesn’t matter where you fall on the political spectrum,” Breslau said. “You’re going to get hit in your research and your funding.”
Demonstrators we spoke with said at least locally, they feel like their voices are being heard.
“We’re here and making a presence here in the town, showing what the sciences do for the local and regional community, and that’s part of the land-grant mission of Virginia Tech,” said Christian Matheis, one of the demonstrators.
“I’d like to see more of the public see what scientists do and have an appreciation for it and have scientists’ backs,” Riley said.
According to organizers, this is just the beginning of their movement for change. They plan to host teach-in sessions and create more awareness campaigns, Breslau said. They will also be paying close attention to what happens in government, she added.