Roughly thirty-five students simultaneously laid down on the Frist stairs Thursday night, silently protesting the Keystone XL pipeline and expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure. Led by Mason Herson-Hord and some of the other campus activists who had tied themselves to the White House gates last weekend protesting the pipeline, the students laid on the steps of Frist for twenty minutes during late meal. The protest coincided with the end of the State Department’s public comment period for the pipeline – midnight on Friday, March 7th.
The students, dressed in black, proceeded silently toward the Frist gallery from the doors of the first floor entrance a few minutes after 9 p.m. When they reached the steps, Herson-Hord clapped twice and the students fell to the ground in unison. He silently held up a sign which read “We will defend our future. We will resist.” The sign included a link to pledge to help fight the construction of the pipeline.
Herson-Hord said that the goal of the anti-Keystone movement is the promotion of energy sources less destructive to the environment by “making use of coal and petroleum as expensive and painful as possible for industry.”
Students were initially unsure what was taking place, but word spread through the gallery according to freshman Ellie McDonald. Responses ranged from cheering to peering curiously down the stairs to discussing support for the pipeline.
After twenty minutes Herson-Hord clapped twice, and the students stood up in unison and walked up the stairs. Two P-Safe officers showed up towards the end of the twenty minute protest, but only to look into what was going on, and the protests ended of the protester’s own accord.
While many were confused by the protest, students also remarked that the pipeline issue had become more prevalent on campus recently.
“It’s becoming more talked about,” said sophomore Natalie Hejduk.