On Monday night in front of Marycrest Hall, UD students camped out in support of the protesters at Standing Rock, ND. Temperatures were in the low thirties with rain also falling, but junior Cody Ruffing said “Experiencing that discomfort was the point.”
The Dakota Access Pipeline has come under heavy fire since it was introduced to the public back in 2014. The pipeline is designed to cross through four states (ND, SD, IA and IL) spanning 1,172 miles, enabling domestically produced light sweet crude oil from North Dakota to reach major refining markets.
The pipeline is projected to transport 470,000 barrels of oil per day as well as creating thousands of local jobs. However, Ruffing and his group of 15-20 people are putting the economic impact aside to focus on what he calls “human health,” and how that is the number one concern.
The Standing Rock protests started when it was heard, that part of the pipeline would travel underneath the Missouri River, which is the primary drinking source for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. When hearing this story Ruffing knew he wanted to be involved and he said, “In UD river stewards we all talked about it and wanted to do something that showed we care about the environment.” Ruffing also said that “This was a protest against the entire pipeline, not just a single portion, and these people are fighting for more than just that one section.”
Ruffing is referring to how at Standing Rock the pipeline would go underneath a sacred Sioux burial ground and the Missouri River. It was through meeting people like Guy Jones (founder of The Miami Valley Council for Native Americans) where Ruffing got to hear first-hand experiences of people who were at Standing Rock.
Ruffing explained the pain these people are going through when he said, “Authorities were spraying water on protesters in freezing temperatures.” He also said, “I heard of a guy from Kentucky who was planning to kill himself at Standing Rock to be the first person killed fighting for this.”
Its experiences like these where Ruffing said, “We have to be positive and work together.” This past Sunday the Army Corps of Engineers building the pipeline said, that the current route for the Dakota Access Pipeline will be denied. It may sound like a victory but Ruffing calls this a victory in the battle, not the war.
Monday night’s statement by Ruffing and other UD students has inspired Ruffing to get involved on a larger scale which he said, “It inspired me to start my own organization.” After all of this Ruffing said he thought about going to North Dakota, but thought he could raise awareness right here in Dayton, Ohio.