Power to the People: Students Exercise their Right to Assemble

By Amanda Eldreth

Elm Staff Writer

Lawyers can be incredibly sneaky and underhanded, and sometimes it disgusts me. Through the use of clever legal tactics and intricately woven promises, lawyers representing influential developers have persuaded the Kent County Commissioners to positively consider transforming a large area of farmland in northern Kent County into an industrial complex for a commercial rubble dump and landfill.

My main problem with the proposal is that Kent County has little need for a site to dump waste materials and bury them under layers of the earth. It feels like the making of a SyFy horror movie plot where the evil scientist dumps his waste materials from the lab, and the chemicals combine with plant and animal life and create a rampaging monster hell-bent on destruction. Despite that being highly imaginative and unlikely to occur, the long-term effects of having a rubble dump in a rural county could be devastating.

What could possibly be so enticing about creating a rubble dump in Kent County? The threat of polluting drinking water? Polluting the Sassafras in general? The thought of traffic congestion with a flow of trash from out-of-state? Maybe it is taking away farmland in a community known for farming.

Not surprisingly, the Student Environmental Alliance jumped at the chance to help rally against the rubble dump. SEA members heard about the proposal just in time to join ranks with other protestors, organized through the Sassafras River Organization, and protest the rubble dump proposal on Sept. 13 outside the Kent County Commissioners’ office. Being a new member of the SEA myself, I was thrilled to lose my protesting virginity along with the rest of the members who could attend the protest. The ten of the SEA who could attend, a number we are all proud of, expected a small turn out from the community.

How wrong we were. Upon our arrival at the Commissioners’ office, we were greeted by a crowd well over 100, with more still arriving. The SEA was surprised at the positive acceptance towards the protest and especially towards the club’s– and WC’s– participation. Amanda Anastasia, club member, said that “being in the protest exceeded my expectations because there were more people than I thought there would be. It was awesome to be involved in something that so many community members were a part of.” The protestors surrounded all entrances to the parking lot and building so our signs and presence could not be missed by the Commissioners.

Signs in tow, the members of the protest then crammed into the Commissioners’ office once the meeting began. One protester managed to fluster the Commissioners by vocalizing why we were there and asking them to keep us in mind for future decisions. All that was commented was that the rubble dump proposal was not on the agenda and they had to stick to their schedules. However, the protestors made their disapproval known and that is a solid start.

There will be another protest, the date of which is still undetermined. The SEA hopes that more WC students will join the community and speak out against the proposal. This is something that will affect the entire county, and that includes the college. The next protest will be more publicized and less short notice than last week’s, and the SEA hopes to see you all there…what an impact that would be.

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