Tylor Dove

Sociology graduate student Tylor Dove, though a passion for environmentalism, started a chapter of the Sunrise Movement on campus, who advocates for global warming.

With over 14,000 students at SIUE, there’s a very diverse and interesting population of people who go to school here. So, The Alestle has decided to begin to highlight some of those students with a recurring column — Cougars in the Wild. 

Tylor Dove, a graduate student in sociology from Winfield, Missouri, has been involved in fighting against the climate crisis for a long time. Dove said he got involved in the issue through volunteering and working with many different environmentalism organizations.

“I worked for about eight months with the Sierra Club, which is the United States’ largest conservation organization. I previously was a community organizer for the Clean Energy Jobs Act, which basically focused on making sure communities of color were being represented fairly in the discussion of [the] environment, and also making sure those underserved communities were the first ones to get access to sustainable businesses, like solar panels,” Dove said. “They would be the first ones asked to go in and install and operate them.”

According to Dove, he feels particularly connected to the Sunrise Movement, since he started a chapter of it at SIUE. 

“Beyond that, I was really introduced to environmental issues and how impactful they are on people by an organization called the Sunrise Movement, which is a youth-led organization. The biggest population of theirs is from [ages] 16-25, and they are now a national organization with chapters all across the country in plenty of major cities,” said Dove. “They work really closely with people like [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] and [Sen.] Bernie Sanders.”

Although support from politicians for these groups is vital, Dove said he wishes it wasn’t necessary in order to make these issues heard.

“Most of my work has been political work, but things like the climate crisis shouldn’t really be a political topic since it’s based on science,” Dove said. “It’s just really bizarre that it’s still debated upon, whether or not it’s factual, when we see real life consequences of our actions.”

According to Dove, bringing people together for a cause and building those connections is crucial for an issue like environmentalism.

“With Sunrise, we started a chapter at this school, with a focus on education and outreach, as well as voters’ rights issues, like building up young people’s voices,” Dove said. “I did a lot of community-building like that with the Sierra Club as well, in cities like Roxana, East

St. Louis and Alton.”

This concept of community was something that Dove said he learned from the sociology department at SIUE. 

“In general, I would say that the sociology department is a very community-based staff on this campus. Everything there is structured around the idea of wanting to build students into being successful, and I would say people like [Assistant Professor] Corey Stevens and [Instructor] Megan Arnett, they’re very focused on empowering young voices and challenging them,” Dove said. “Both of them have really pushed me to be like a young professional, and to try and make change.”

However, Dove also said starting the SIUE chapter of the Sunrise Movement was not a completely simple process.

“I think that beyond just the bureaucracy of setting up an organization, which is usually somewhat straightforward, the biggest issues that me and my friends had when bringing the organization here is just that this campus isn’t super involved when it comes to organizations,” Dove said. “In general, I think the campus isn’t too friendly when it comes to things like direct, nonviolent action or political work.” 

Dove said another hurdle that the Sunrise Movement had to tackle was the COVID-19 pandemic, since the Sunrise Movement at SIUE was started in the spring of 2020.

“It’s very hard to have an organization that’s very much built to be within the community, like working with people face-to-face, going fully remote. That’s a challenge,” Dove said. “This past semester, we’ve been working a lot on rebuilding and rebranding.”

With the organization rebuilding, Dove said it’s also nice to see SIUE rebuilding — not just to repair from COVID-19, but to also create new solutions for climate change.

“I think SIUE’s on the track to do much better. There’s the Climate and Sustainability Advisory Board that’s been more active in the past few years and just made sure there was more of a push for these issues,” Dove said. “In general, I think SIUE could be doing a lot more, like with carbon offsetting and putting a lot more resources into doing that, especially with institutions all across Illinois that are doing that right now.”

As for post-graduation plans, Dove said it’s not fully fleshed out yet, but he wants to keep working on the climate crisis.

“I would love to run for public office in the future. Before then, though, I would love to do work with the United Nations in work with the environment, or work with the Peace Corps when it comes to sustainability in other countries,” Dove said. “I have really no idea, I just know that I want to be in communities that I’m helping, and work with people.”

In order to enact change, and handle the climate crisis head-on, Dove said we’re at an important point. If people want to change, the best way to get it is to make sure they’re being heard.

“I think one of the biggest things that people fail to realize is how much your voice matters. Like, literally just calling your representative in your district and telling them how much these bills and issues of climate really matter to you really does say a lot, especially among young people,” Dove said. “This is a pivotal moment in history, and in students’ lives at a university. I think now is the best time to just be involved and actually speak your truth and challenge power when it comes to these issues.”

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