5C student founds local chapter of Sunrise Movement

Two people hold a sign reading "Green New Deal" in front of a building. The building has a sign reading "John C. Kluczynski Federal Building."
Members of the Sunrise Movement protest in support of the Green New Deal in Chicago. (Courtesy: Charles Edward Miller)

Just three days before the Sunrise Movement came to speak at Pitzer College, a 5C student founded a local chapter of the youth-led organization, whose main goal is to tackle climate change.

Members of the Sunrise Movement recently gained notoriety for a viral video in which they got into a heated debate with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., about the Green New Deal, a set of proposed economic stimulus programs that would combat climate change and economic inequality.

Eric Warmoth CM ’22, who founded the Claremont Colleges Sunrise Movement chapter, said he came up with the idea over winter break. He completed online trainings and seminars to have the 5Cs added to the Sunrise Movement’s website as an official chapter.

“This is the moment for change, and there’s a lot of people that are really excited and passionate about [combating climate change],” Warmoth said. “I wanted to bring that to the Claremont Colleges, which is already a very politically-charged community.”

The club was created just in time, as members of Whittier College’s Sunrise Movement Hub spoke about climate change on behalf of the Sunrise Movement at Pitzer March 7.

Whittier first-years D Garcia and Manasa Makineni explained the Sunrise Movement’s organization and goals to 5C students, and why it supports the Green New Deal.

The Sunrise Movement aims to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions; create millions of high-paying jobs; invest in sustainable U.S. infrastructure and industry; secure clean air and water and promote justice and equality, according to the two representatives.

Run almost entirely by volunteers, any three members of the movement are able to undertake a new project or create a new local chapter, Garcia and Makineni said.

Samuel Sjoberg PZ ’20, who organized the event along with Sandra Sublette PZ ’21, said he hadn’t known many specifics of the Green New Deal and wanted to learn more.

“I like the Sunrise Movement. I think they do really good work, and I’m thinking about joining the Claremont Sunrise Movement Chapter that just got started,” he said.

The movement gained momentum after members of the organization met with Feinstein in her San Francisco office to ask her to support the Green New Deal in late February.

Feinstein responded: “You know what’s interesting about this group? I’ve been doing this for 30 years. I know what I’m doing. You come in here and you say it has to be my way or the highway. I don’t respond to that. I’ve gotten elected. I just ran. I was elected by almost a million vote plurality. And I know what I’m doing. So you know, maybe people should listen a little bit.”

Sjoberg said he found Feinstein’s comments to Sunrise organizers about the Green New Deal disrespectful and dismissive. He hopes to see Feinstein, who’s been a senator for 26 years, voted out of office in the next election — if she runs again. Her next re-election battle would be in 2024, when she would be 91 years old.

“Dianne Feinstein’s comments are exactly what’s wrong with the current state of politics,” Sjoberg said.

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