With local and national elections starting a month from now, Goshen College student advocates for the Sunrise Movement are making sure their wishes are being met.The Sunrise Movement is a national coalition of youth who are passionate about ending climate change and electing officials who are supporting environmental policy.
Their most notable endorsement of Bernie Sanders came during the presidential primaries earlier this year.
With over 400 hubs located across the U.S., the Sunrise Movement has expanded its participation, including a chapter founded in Goshen in November 2019.
Khampha Stempel, senior; Ariana Perez Diener, senior; Alexa Kennel, junior; and Lisa Nalliah, sophomore, are all GC students who have taken leadership positions in the Sunrise Movement.
Stempel, an electoral lead for the movement, is in charge of meeting with local candidates interested in receiving an endorsement from their organization.
Stempel meets with the candidates individually, walks them through the endorsement process and gives them paperwork from the Sunrise Movement national organization for both parties to better understand how their missions line up.
He then brings what he learned back to the Goshen hub members for a vote.
The three candidates receiving endorsements from the Sunrise Movement this fall are Aaron Mishler, state representative for District 48; Donald Brown, Elkhart County commissioner for District 2; and Paul Steury, county council at-large.
Amanda Quails, running for state representative of District 49 is still undergoing the endorsement process.
At the end of the day, Stempel said, the goal is to make real change in the area regarding the effects of climate change.
“We need people at local, regional, state and national levels to achieve goals of social, environmental justice,” Stempel said. “Getting these four [candidates] to win their office will help tremendously in this regional area.”
For Nalliah, she was encouraged by these goals during the Climate Strike in South Bend last winter and became involved at the beginning of this year.
Her passion for a Green New Deal in the U.S. and throughout local communities catapulted her into a head role for the Goshen hub.
“[The Sunrise Movement’s] mission for what the world could look like was what drew me in,” Nalliah said. “Even though I was new to it, I just wanted to do something.”
Now, as the Goshen hub coordinator for the Sunrise Movement, Nalliah is in charge of communicating with other sites across the country and overlooking operations in Goshen.
The politically-driven environmental movement is moving forward into elections with hopes to continue advertising for endorsed candidates and recruiting new members like Nalliah.
The next Zoom meeting for more information on the Sunrise Movement will be held on Sept. 30 at 7 p.m.