Those who participate in student government are often inspired by local politics and issues to campaign and make their own changes.
This is true for Lars Romsos and Lily Butler, who are running for positions in the Associated Students of Oregon State University and are actively involved with Sunrise Corvallis.
The Sunrise Movement is a national youth movement focused on stopping climate change and creating jobs for people in the process. Their website states that they’re “building an army of young people to make climate change an urgent priority across America, end the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics and elect leaders who stand up for the health and wellbeing of all people.”
The organization has chapters across the country, including one in Corvallis. Sunrise Corvallis is focused on implementing the Corvallis Green New Deal, attempting to transition the city to green energy.
Romsos is a first-year general engineering student, is running for a Senator position in ASOSU and has taken part in the Sunrise Movement since high school. He initially got involved in his hometown’s chapter in South Tahoe, Calif. Romsos was driven to join the movement when a peer of his quit his job to become an organizer for the South Tahoe Sunrise Movement.
“I was really inspired by that, that he’d devote all of his time to trying to stop climate change,” Romsos said.
In fact, Sunrise was a large part of why Romsos decided to attend OSU. When deciding between attending University of California, Santa Cruz and OSU, he ultimately chose the latter because it had a Sunrise Movement chapter while the former did not.
Romsos became involved with Sunrise Corvallis almost immediately upon arriving at OSU. He’s part of the chapter’s art team and action team and contributed, through edits and rewriting some sections, to the Corvallis Green New Deal.
Sunrise Corvallis plans on presenting the Corvallis Green New Deal to the City Council. The City of Corvallis already has a plan for transition to green energy, but progress has been slow. Sunrise is trying to supplement and move along the existing plan.
“We’re currently trying to get more local community organizations on board; we’ve been pretty successful with that,” Romsos said.
Romsos said he was inspired by involvement in the Young Democratic Socialists Association and Sunrise Corvallis to run for an ASOSU position, and he hopes he can bring his skills from Sunrise into student government to benefit the community.
Lily Butler is a third-year natural resources and sustainability major who recently got involved with Sunrise this academic term. Like Romsos, Butler has some experience with Sunrise from a chapter in her hometown, Eugene, Ore.
Butler said that she has wanted to join Sunrise Corvallis for a while and recently found the time to fit the commitment into her schedule. She was particularly drawn to the chapter because of its Green New Deal plan.
“The main goal of the Corvallis Green New Deal is to take immediate action to prevent the worst impacts of the Climate Emergency, which involves taking a variety of actions to ensure a sustainable future for all,” Butler said via email. “There are many other actions that the Corvallis Green New Deal calls upon the city of Corvallis to support including affordable education and childcare, centering minority groups in their work and creating a fund for green projects. I think it is extremely comprehensive and intersectional, which is why I am so impressed by it and wanted to be involved.”
Butler was also inspired by the movement’s ability to make large, systemic change.
“I have been working in sustainability outreach for the past few years and while encouraging individuals to change their habits is great, it simply does not have the same impact that large-scale system change does,” Butler said. “Ultimately, most people have those habits because society supports and upholds things like constant growth, waste and systems of oppression, which cannot be addressed as easily through outreach.”
Butler said that she decided to get involved with both Sunrise Corvallis and ASOSU to make positive change for the community.
“I would say that my involvement with Sunrise Corvallis and my desire to get involved with ASOSU both stemmed from my belief that policy has the power to create lasting system change,” Butler said. “I think that both Sunrise and ASOSU are very well-rounded organizations that use many different tactics to get their work done.”
Like Romsos, if elected, Butler plans on using her work with Sunrise to inspire and push forward climate change solutions in student government.
“Sunrise has done a great job with communication and coalition building that I think would be awesome to take those values into my work with ASOSU,” Butler said. “If I get elected, I plan on actively seeking out connections and relationships with a diverse range of student groups at OSU in order to gain a better understanding of the issues that are affecting students the most.”