Senior creates non-partisan organization to unite students through politics
Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.
Email This Story
Some people dream of revolution, while others wake up and become the change they want to see in the world. With the political climate today, students are becoming more involved with political action through marches, protests and youth organizations.
Senior Nora Harren–along with Capital senior Collette Raptosh–co-founded of People For Unity, a student-run political action group that aims to ”bring attention to our needs for gender equity, racial justice, economic justice, reproductive rights, environmental justice, and civil rights for all minority groups,” according to the official People For Unity website (peopleforunity.com).
People For Unity is nonpartisan and was formed to encourage those in opposing political parties to push their differences aside and strive to get everyone involved. “Whichever side of the aisle you sit on–whether you’re Republican or Democrat–we try to bring people together through common goals,” Harren said.
The organization was established in November, but gained momentum after arranging the Women’s March on Idaho. The small committee of four managed to attract 7,000 people in the city of Boise alone to march for women’s rights on a rainy Saturday morning in February. Harren said this has been her favorite experience.
“I hope that it shows students everywhere that even if you can’t vote, you can have a huge impact on your community,” she said.
Shortly after the event, Harren was featured on an Instagram page called “womensmarch,” a page with nearly half a million followers from supporters around the world. If that media recognition wasn’t enough, that same post was identified by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
“I stand w/ Nora Harren, a 17-year-old from Boise, ID, & every person marching for our values today. Onward!” said Clinton in her Twitter post, along with a screenshot of womensmarch’s Instagram post.
Harren said she was more than excited to see a notification on her phone from Clinton so shortly after the march’s success.
“She’s been kind of laying low since the election, and then to get that recognition that our efforts were noticed from so high up was incredible,” said Harren. Ever humble, Harren added, “It feels great to get the attention, but I wish it was more normal to go out there and see students participating.”
Though acknowledgement from someone on the federal level was a surprise, Harren and her cohorts are not unfamiliar with their state and local governments.
“We’ve been getting help from a lot of people who have a lot of experience and leadership, especially representatives and senators who have been super helpful in helping us students to figure out how to best engage people,” said Harren.
People For Unity works closely with a few mentors from Idaho’s politicians, which is one of its closest support systems. The student mentioned Cherie Buckner-Webb, assistant minority leader for Idaho’s House of Representatives. Other support systems include American Civil Liberties Union Idaho (ACLU Idaho), an organization that defends “civil liberties and civil rights.”
For Harren, one of her biggest inspirations is Tamika Mallory, the woman who set the precedent for the women’s marches, starting with Women’s March on Washington. Harren said her team “had the privilege of working with [the Women’s March organizers] closely,” giving People For Unity ideas and advice for future events.
“They do take into account young voices when a lot of people discredit us,” said Harren.
The Borah senior would like to stress the importance of students involving themselves in their community, despite their age. She believes the knowledge of America’s policies has a big impact on the directions students go after high school.
Harren is going to attend Western Washington University after she graduates high school, and plans to earn a Bachelor’s in Environmental Policy. She then wants to continue her education, obtain a law degree, and implement her political knowledge by running for state and local governments.
“Especially with the political climate right now, I think that people could use somewhere to put their energy and efforts rather than just sitting on Facebook or Twitter and ranting about things. We’re hoping to give them a platform to involve themselves,” Harren concluded.