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An Open Letter to North Dakota Students

by HPR Contributor | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Last Word | October 24th, 2018

Dear Students,

I’ll get right to the point. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp supports your voice, your expression. Regardless if you support her. Regardless if you vote for her. Heidi has stood up for you and your right to express your views.

In 2015, a group of North Dakota students, educators like myself, professionals, concerned citizens, and supportive legislators championed the John Wall New Voices Act of North Dakota. The bill protected your ability to write and talk about the issues that were important to you in student media, like your school newspaper, and on social media. The bill passed our House and Senate unanimously and went into effect in August of 2015.

During our push to pass the bill, Heidi reached out to us with her support and let us know that she was there to help if we were in need. When the bill became law, Heidi congratulated us. When other states expressed interest in replicating North Dakota’s success, Heidi made herself available to help them. Heidi joined us in person as we hosted a national video conference to help other states start their own New Voices campaigns. Heidi held high-level national meetings to discuss what can be done in Washington to advance student expression protections. And Heidi used her time on the Senate floor to speak highly of her state, of you, and to publicly champion student expression rights on the national stage.

I encourage you to watch Heidi’s floor speech, and learn more about what Heidi has done for your expression rights, here: https://newvoicesus.com/…/u-s-sen-heidi-heitkamp-speaks-on…/

With Heidi in office, the New Voices of North Dakota movement evolved to become the national New Voices U.S.A. movement. That’s right, a little student-led grassroots effort from a small college in a small state is now a national campaign to protect student expression rights.

Cramer said nothing. Cramer did nothing.

He certainly could have. He was our state’s lone U.S. Representative at the time. Even though the law we passed helped Republican students as much as Democrat students. Even though the law helped Christian students as much as it helped Muslim, Buddhist or atheist students. Even though the law helped pro-Second Amendment rights students as much as it helped pro-Gun Control students. Even though it helped pro-life students as much as it helped pro-choice students. Even though it helped rural students as much as it helped urban students. You get the point - the John Wall New Voices Act of North Dakota helped EVERY student in North Dakota.

Yet Cramer has still said nothing. Cramer has still done nothing. (To be fair, Hoeven hasn't said or done anything either.)

We didn’t ask Heidi for help. She offered it. She offered it because she was proud of the accomplishments of North Dakota students. She offered it because she believes that your voice matters, no matter who you vote for or what you believe.

In that spirit, I encourage you to vote on Nov. 6. Vote your conscience, and know that U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp supported you and will continue to support you whether or not she is still a U.S. Senator on Nov. 7.

That’s what public servants do. That’s what leaders do.

Sincerely,

Steven Listopad

(Steven Listopad is a former journalism assistant professor at the University of Jamestown in Jamestown, N.D. He is a current national advocate for New Voices U.S.A. and a Lecturer and Student Media Adviser at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Ark.)

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