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Out of many organizations that Keene State College students are involved in, the New Hampshire Youth Movement Organization is a notable one. “New Hampshire Youth Movement is a group of students and we focus on activism all over the state; it’s by students for students, so we are fighting for things like the Green New Deal, a better environment for our future, affordable housing, Medicare and healthcare for everyone, free college, and stuff like that,’’ said Maggie Phillips a KSC student and Keene fellow in the organization. According to their website, NHYM aims to create a network of young people across New Hampshire working collectively to further a united political platform.
Jackson Brannen, a former KSC student and Dover fellow in the organization, explained the history of NHYM. Brannen said, “It was founded in 2016. It came out of a University of New Hampshire’s climate organization called ‘Divestment’ and they were trying to get UNH’s divest in fossil fuels and they decided that their strategy wasn’t working and they needed to be in a more broad movement, bring in more young people and decided to make NHYM.” According to the website for NHYM, the movement is creating hubs across New Hampshire that are working under a shared set of values and principles to build collective power in the communities. These hubs come together during major days of action and key elections. The website says, “Students and young people in New Hampshire carry an incredible amount of political power and it’s time we start using it.”
Robert St. Laurent, a KSC student and a part of the movement, said, “We are [currently] focusing a lot on the upcoming presidential election and bird dogging (pursuing determinedly) candidates on issues such as Green New Deal, Medicare for all, free college for all, elimination of student debt.”
NHYM held a non-violent protest at the statehouse in Concord on May 7, 2019. According to Phillips, there were people in Governor Christopher T. Sununu’s office and there were people lined up in the halls of the statehouse singing “we are fighting for our future, we are healing what is wrong” and many other songs.
According to an article in the local newspaper Keene Sentinel, ten students from UNH and KSC were arrested during the protest. St. Laurent and Brannen were among them. Brannen said, “Ten of us that got arrested, we decided that that’s what we wanted to do and we decided that because we view the issue as super important and wanted to make a big statement to show that we are going to do whatever it takes to fight for our rights to vote.”
The organization protested against the House Bill 1264. St. Laurent described HB 1264 as, “out of state students who go to school in New Hampshire can’t vote until they register their car and license in the state of NH. So, if the student from Massachusetts were to come to KSC, they won’t be able to vote in the town of Keene unless they register their car.”
Phillips said, “It disfranchises youth voters, that’s what it basically does.”
“There are a lot of really depressing things going on in this country right now and the young people’s future is at stake right now and there are solutions that we are going to fight for,’’ said Brannen.
The next event the group is organizing is on October 13, 2019, at the field house of UNH. It is called “The People’s Presidential Forum of New Hampshire.” According to Brannen, they have sent out invitations to five presidential candidates to attend the forum.
Phillips said, “We have just as much of a stake as any adults, we are gonna grow up, we are gonna be the generation of adults. It’s just good to be educated and strong and know that you are powerful and you have a say.”
When asked about his motivation, Brannen said, “Working with such an inspiring group of people that share the same values keep me motivated for sure.”
St. Laurent said, “Getting involved is extremely easy, and the group meets every Sunday at 7 pm in the Atrium Conference Room.”
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