Phi Rho Sister Organizes Local March for Science

Photo credit: Andrea Johnson, The Arkansas Traveler

On Saturday April 22, communities worldwide participated in the March for Science. According to the organization’s webpage, the goal was to “unite as a diverse, nonpartisan group to call for science that upholds the common good and for political leaders and policy makers to enact evidence based policies in the public interest.” Over 500 cities held local marches, including one in Northwest Arkansas that came to fruition as a result of the efforts of a Phi Sigma Rho sister.

One night in early February, University of Arkansas sophomore Brayley Gattis was talking with her lab partner, Zachary Renfro, about the upcoming March for Science. Over the course of their conversation, she decided there should be a local one, believing Northwest Arkansas to a supportive and progressive community that would benefit from such a march.

Motivated by their talk, Brayley and Zachary up a Facebook event and invited their friends. The word quickly spread and soon, they had more than 500 people who had committed to attending.

Photo credit: Andrea Johnson. To see more photos of the event, visit the event gallery on The Arkansas Traveler website.

Planning such a large-scale and public event is no easy task. In order to march, the duo had to obtain both a university and a city permit. Brayley noted that “obtaining the university permit required a lot of back and forth, rejection, rewriting, and emails,” but that after a month’s effort, they finally received the permit.

In addition to logistical planning, Brayley and Zachary also developed a program that included guest speakers in order to “bring in a couple of different perspectives from the community.” The group of speakers included engineers, scientists, political figures, and university members.

She noted the goal of the event was to “get a great group of people to come out and show their love for science.” By most any measure, the event was a great success, even with what Brayley described as less-than-ideal weather. More than 600 people participated in the event, so much so that they overfilled the campus’ largest auditorium.

“We received almost nothing but positive feedback, which was absolutely amazing and heart-warming,” Brayley said.

Her favorite moment of the event came when she was able to introduce one of the guest speakers, the chancellor of the university, Dr. Joseph Steinmetz, who in turn thanked Brayley and Zachary for their efforts in putting the March together. It was, as Brayley noted, “an incredible moment.”

Given the success of the event, Brayley hopes there can be another march next year. For all she accomplished, her work may not be done.

Brayley Gattis, born and raised in Fort Smith, Arkansas, is a sophomore at the University of Arkansas and a sister of the Kappa Phi Sigma Rho chapter. Gattis is majoring in Chemistry and French and will be graduating in May 2019.