This election season, NextGen Climate is advocating for a unique candidate: the environment.
The activist group’s kickoff meeting was held Thursday in Seigfred Hall. More than 20 students attended for a night of free pizza, anti-Donald Trump T-shirts and learning about politics and the environment.
NextGen Climate is a national organization that has taken action on more than 60 college campuses, including Ohio University.
The group’s main goal is to bring climate change to the forefront of U.S. politics, NextGen Climate spokesperson David Miller said.
The primary way to do this is through student involvement, Miller said, which NextGen Climate facilitates through text messaging, canvassing and getting students registered to vote for the upcoming fall 2016 election.
“We’re trying to come up with creative ideas to meet (students) where they are on campus,” Miller said. “Our climate kickoff is the official start of our activities leading up to the election.”
Earlier this month, NextGen Climate provided an event where students had the opportunity to pie a NextGen Climate member wearing a Donald Trump mask.
The Republican nominee has called global warming a “hoax” and said the Environmental Protection Agency is a “disgrace”. His opponent, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, plans to makeenvironmental and climate justice a priority of her administration.
For Caitlin Morgan, a junior studying English and dance, NextGen Climate is a way for her to get involved in environmental activism where her studies are lacking.
“I’m really passionate about the environment, and I wasn’t able to major in environmental studies, so I’m trying to look into ways to get more involved on campus and in the community and make change,” Morgan said.
The first meeting included a split into subcommittees: voter registration and volunteer recruitment.
Students signed up for volunteer shifts and team captains were elected. Simphiwe Shongwe, a freshman studying French education, is a team captain for volunteer recruitment. His job is to make phone calls and send text messages eight hours a week trying to motivate other volunteers to join his cause.
“Climate change is a real issue,” Shongwe said. “It’s one of those big problems we hear about every day and we have to start taking steps forward, so this is my contribution to fight against climate change.”
Originally published for The Post on September 16, 2016.