New Voices of Minnesota supporters gather at Capitol

Student journalists advocate for First Amendment rights


Echo Staffer

Senior Lukas Levin and other supporters of the New Voices of Minnesota create signs advocating for the protection of student journalist voices. Students worked on the signs before entering the Senate Chamber March 19.

Nicole Sanford

Looking to combat journalistic censorship, senior Annabella Strathman said she was surprised to see the receptiveness of state senators to the newly proposed New Voices bill.

“I didn’t totally know what to expect because I had known that the New Voices Act had faced some different kinds of reactions,” Strathman said. “They told us ‘hey, you might not get people who necessarily (are) in support of the bill right away,’ and so we had to prepare for how receptive people would be. But overall, even the people that I maybe thought weren’t necessarily going to be in support of the bill were really willing to listen.”

According to Lori Keekley, who helped organize the Capitol lobby March 19, the New Voices of Minnesota movement aims to free student journalists from administrative censorship. Keekley said the goal of the New Voices bill is to establish that school administrators cannot censor content covered by publications.

“I work with New Voices nationally as well, and it really is important. We have (school publications) in Minnesota that are censored on a regular basis, and they don’t always come out and say it,” Keekley said. “At the rally day we had a few that did start telling their stories which was wonderful because it’s exactly what we needed.”

Keekley said focusing the Capitol rally on students remained the most rewarding part of her experience.

“The student engagement was amazing, and we didn’t go with them — they went and saw legislatures all on their own. St. Louis Park doesn’t have censorship, but some of these other schools that were there do, so they were able to tell their stories,” Keekley said. “It’s really important that we do have freedom of expression for students to be able to tell their stories and the stories of their community.”

Strathman said support from different communities brought new perspectives that helped make the rally a success.

“The amount of kids that we had (surprised me). I knew that other schools had faced some censorship and that we were super, super lucky, but it was kind of crazy to hear so many other schools that aren’t far from us talk about really severe censorship issues,” Strathman said. “I don’t know that I fully realized how close we are to censorship around us.”

Senior Lukas Levin, who attended the event alongside Strathman and other supporters of the bill, said simple forms of activism are much easier to achieve than people think.

“(It surprised me) how easy it was to get involved in student activism, especially for something that I actually care about — it wasn’t that hard to do it,” Levin said. “If you just have a little bit of organization beforehand and just a group of kids and some adults to monitor, it’s really easy to get involved and do something and change the world.”

Keekley said she believes the next generation of activists will successfully create change in the years to come.

“I learned that students are passionate about the First Amendment as well, and that’s wonderful to see. I always get asked ‘are we going to be okay?’ or ‘are these students, when they get older, going to be okay to do all this?’ Keekley said. “We’re fine. Hopefully (students) can make a change more than we were able to do.”

For more information on how to join the New Voices movement, visit