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The Scarlet & Black

Student activists working to increase campus engagement and tackle new issues

By Eyerusalem Desta

The Million Hoodies Movement for Justice and the Sunrise Movement are continuing to be active on campus this year after officially forming last winter, while Grinnell United Activism Council (GUAC) members have upgraded their living space from a floor in Cleveland to an apartment in Cowles.

Malcolm Davis ’21 officially founded the Grinnell chapter of Million Hoodies, which aims to fight racial and economic injustice, with Jelani McCray ’21 last January, “because … there was not really a space for activism in a way that intersects with identity,” said Davis.

The Sunrise Movement is “all about climate activism,” said co-founder Hannah Dorf ’20. “It’s a lot of stuff about putting pressure on politicians because that’s where change is going to happen. We need to have laws and regulations because that’s the only way the industry is going to change,” she said. The Grinnell chapter of the national Sunrise Movement organization was founded in February of last year by Dorf and Megan Gardner ’20.

“We started and didn’t have as much ability to advertise and make ourselves as known as we’d hoped, so this year is our starting out year,” said Dorf.

According to Dorf, the group had a successful start to their year in terms of members. “[It’s going] really well, we got a lot of people interested at the organization fair,” she said.

GUAC co-leader Oscar Buchanan ’21 explained the benefits of their new apartment, saying, “It’s really helpful for our organization in particular because we are focused on community organizing as opposed to cause-specific activism.” Co-leader Daniella Butler ’20 said, “It helps a lot with not only recruiting, but also holding the community together. … You’re able to host events for them and bring attention to certain news. … It’s much easier than if you’re separated.”

One of GUAC’s goals this year is to be more in touch with different groups around campus. “This year I think we’re branching out, we’re engaging more with other activism groups on campus and we’re bringing something new called Pub Talks to campus; it’s made by Ashton Aveling ’22,” said Butler.

Million Hoodies is also planning on increasing campus engagement and building their base.

Davis explained that building base “is what happens inside chapter meetings. It’s about recruiting people of color who are interested in activism, educating our own members so that everybody is as in charge in terms of all the knowledge about the movement … it means fundraising, going out and doing other chapter activities.”

Million Hoodies has two campaigns they are focusing on this semester, with the first being their prison divestment campaign, continued from last year. Davis said, “The prison divestment campaign [is where] we sit down and have some conversation with [President Kington] about the college’s business connections with Iowa Prison Industries.”

The second campaign has not yet started, but it will be about “dealing with the way the school uses police,” said Davis.

Million Hoodies membership is open specifically for students of color, but Malcolm explained that they “want to be able to engage with the community outside of Million Hoodies, so, engaging allies in things like film screenings, [having] teach-ins, talking about and sort of exposing these things about the school as well as just educating everybody on the general system itself.”

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