Political activism requires those who can build consensus within the student body and support principles that is congruous with their cause. Such was evident on Wednesday, Dec. 9, when two prominent JCU activist groups – the African American Alliance (AAA) and Environmental Issues Group (EIG) – took part in and collaborated with junior Krystal Millam to deliver a call to the office of United States Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and initiated dialogue on the detriment and threats of climate change.
Millam is a Political Science major who is determined to lead the grassroots battle on climate change and has done so by holding Ohio leaders accountable and conscientious of their actions in addressing the issue. Formerly holding calls with U.S. Representative Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), among others, Millam and other student advocates – such as Wadhi Nemeh, who also joined in making the call Portman’s office – have consistently worked to make these Ohio leaders aware that dialogue is essential and prospective efforts to address the issue are important as well. Such impetus was made clear to Rob Portman’s office.
The call was made at 2:20 p.m. to a Rob Portman staffer. The integral message behind the call was to emphasize the importance in Portman supporting and joining the Republican climate change workgroup, which is comprised of four Republican Senators. One of these senators is Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire. The workgroup is driven to provide comprehensive and economically compatible solutions to offset the cataclysmic effects of climate change.
Aside from the central message, each speaker shared why addressing climate change is important to them. The newly-elected president of AAA Dwight Venson shared his concern for inner city smog and the effect of excessive carbon emissions on the health of the impoverished and of African Americans, many of which reside in inner cities.
Monica Angelotti – the EIG president – stressed the economic necessity of allocating resources purposefully, which should result in more alternative energy rather than the prospect of more coal-powered plants. She elaborated on sustainable business models; and she encouraged the recent support of Rob Portman to ban non-degradable microbeads that are contaminating Lake Erie and other Ohio water sources.
Similar to the other advocates, Angelotti echoed a key note in combating the issue: “the severity of increasing temperatures” and how that sparks trepidation in every advocate. Wadhi also expressed his worry of extreme weather patterns and the lack of leadership in Congress. Millam wrapped up the call with gratitude – which every speaker showed an abundance of – and pleaded for the continued effort from the Portman office to combat climate change.
The staffer’s response consisted of obeisance and a passive interest in their plea. Obviously guided by a predisposition toward certain policies and beliefs, she displayed the attentive courtesy of hearing their cause.
Advocacy resides in the power to make aware and inform, and these student advocates are working tremendously hard and will continue to do so.