Ohio State doctoral candidate Reed Kurtz gave a speech about climate change outside Sen. Rob Portman’s office Tuesday. Fourth-year student Stella Barnes (right) holds a sign.

Ohio State students gathered outside Sen. Rob Portman’s office in Huntington Plaza in downtown Columbus Tuesday to prove one point: Climate change matters to them.

The students, working with nonpartisan environmental group Defend Our Future, delivered results from a poll conducted during the Student Involvement Fair that showed climate change was the issue most worrisome to students.

Other issues students were polled on include immigration and health care.

Reed Kurtz, a doctoral candidate in the political science department at Ohio State, attended, in addition to the undergraduate students involved.

Kurtz said he hopes for a positive response from Portman’s office, but stressed the need for realistic expectations.

“I think realistically what we could hope for is there is some recognition that we are out here, that they’re listening,” Kurtz said. “It would be nice, obviously, to see that transfer into concrete action … more realistically what’s more important is that we build connections within our networks here in Ohio, that we realize we are all in this together.”

In his speech, Kurtz — whose doctoral dissertation focuses on environmental action — said climate change is not just an academic issue. He said on one hand this work has become more important with the actions of the current administration but that people cannot “forget and forgive mainstream Democrats.”

“Under Obama we had the expansion of fracking not just here in Ohio, but all across the world,” Kurtz said. “The Obama administration sent millions and millions of dollars to support coal-fired power plants all over the world. So, we can’t ignore the damage that has been done by politicians on both sides of the aisle.”

Stella Barnes, a fourth-year in environment, economy, development and sustainability and an intern with Defend Our Future, said she got involved because she wanted to work on the political side of environmental action.

Barnes said she hoped that Tuesday’s event would elicit a positive response from Portman.

“We want him to listen to us,” Barnes said. “He’s had a history of not doing that.”