Fight for a future

Students advocate for change within community

Grace Farley, Abby Intveld, and Dani Orloff

As senior Sophia Davenport reflects on the surge of youth-led activism this past year, she said she believes it is important for student voice to be heard and acknowledged.

“Since we can’t vote and the majority of us are not 18, there is no way to express your opinion or create any change without getting politically involved and protest because you make a statement, you make your voice heard and it gathers people with the same viewpoint to actually try and get change to occur,” Davenport said.

According to sophomore MN Can’t Wait organizer Gabe Kaplan, approximately 100 students from around Minnesota — including Roots and Shoots members — gathered at the State capitol Jan. 10 to speak with Gov. Tim Walz and Lieut. Gov. Peggy Flanagan to urge these elected officials to take immediate action in fighting climate change.

Kaplan said he feels the name of the organization, MN Can’t Wait, itself displays the immediate action necessary to create a sustainable environment.  

“It is our future, so while the people in power have a lot to lose too, we are going to be outliving the governor, the Lieutenant Governor, and pretty much anyone who holds power right now,” Kaplan said. “If we are going to have a survivable future with a good environment like our parents inherited, we need to act now.”

As he sat in front of the high school students, Walz said these discussions are exactly what democracy is supposed to look like.

“As a long time high school teacher, geography teacher and someone who has been deeply concerned with climate change, with the adverse impact and the existential threat it brings to our planet, to see all of you here and us working together to figure out how do we make real and lasting change improves people’s lives, improves the planet, and puts us on a path toward sustainability,” Walz said.

Just as Kaplan has advocated for a fossil free future, Davenport said she looks forward to attending the Women’s March Jan. 18 to be able to march and rally for her values.

“I am interested in going because I do not agree with a lot of the politics that our government is supporting right now,” Davenport said. “I just want to make that very clear and I want to emphasize how important women’s rights as a whole are, including the rights of other marginalized peoples.”

Unfortunately my generation has left a bit of a mess for the younger generations and it’s really your future much more than it’s mine and ours and so when you care deeply about an issue and speak up.”

— Larry Kraft

Student activism has also been present at Park through Students Organized Against Racism’s (SOAR) uncensored race panel Nov. 27. The forum sought to discuss issues facing students of color at Park.

Senior SOAR member Maddy Eduardo Gonzalez, who participated in the panel, urges students and faculty to actively participate in social issues by continuing to ask questions.

“Asking questions is better than just walking around and assuming, so that you have an answer and you have an idea,” Eduardo Gonzalez said. “Sometimes when someone asks questions they feel bad about the questions they have, but it is better to ask someone than assume something about them.”

According to junior Franny Bevell, racial activism is especially important at Park because of the diversity of the student body. She said she believes everyone — not just students affected directly by racism — should participate.

“A lot of (Park’s) classmates and peers aren’t white and I think that it is important to know what they go through because (white people) don’t know,” Bevell said. “I think that we need to listen to their views and their experiences at school and within the community.”

Roots and Shoots supporter Larry Kraft, who attended the Gov. Walz meeting, said he believes youth are responsible for advocating for themselves as well as bringing the issues that are directly affecting them to light. He urges students to exercise their first amendment rights and advocate for their futures.  

“Unfortunately my generation has left a bit of a mess for the younger generations and it’s really your future much more than it’s mine and ours and so when you care deeply about an issue and speak up,” Kraft said.  

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