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Making your voice count

New club at BHS prepares to be voice for current and future students
Talisman photo file
Executive Board member Noir Goldberg protesting at student-led rally at City Hall against gun violence in 2022.

Living in the wake of virtual school and mask mandates, what was a few students discussing how they wished they had masks available at their schools on an Instagram group chat slowly evolved to be much more, something none of them could have expected. 

“The group chat eventually got a name, Seattle Student Union,” said Noir Goldberg, one of the original members of Seattle Student Union (SSU). 

Goldberg is now an Executive Board Member of SSU and recently co-founded the SSU BHS chapter with her friend and classmate, Gemma Aiello. 

In creating the SSU BHS chapter, Goldberg and Aiello wanted to bring the mission of SSU to Ballard and concentrate it for BHS needs. 

“We wanted it to be consistent,” Aiello said. “A voice for the students, by the students.”

SSU has been working on chapter establishment for about a year now. The leaders of this new club are excited for the opportunities it brings. 

“By having in place these chapters in schools we have a pre-established base for the next year,” Goldberg said. “This way it will continue and student advocacy won’t end with this graduating class. It doesn’t end here, and that’s what we’re hoping to prevent by starting this chapter.” 

The club took off quickly with a voter registration event, which was one of the initial goals of co-founder Goldberg. 

“We’re kind of inheriting a political mess,” Goldberg said. “There’s been a rise of desensitization towards conflict within our communities because everything is so terrible that it has all become background noise at this point. It can be really easy to wonder what one vote is going to do. But, if everyone puts in their one vote, it can have a really big impact.”

The voter registration event cultivated over 350 new young adult voters. Along with encouraging students to register and vote, the SSU BHS chapter is hoping to teach students greater digital literacy. 

“There’s a lot of misinformation circulating about any topic of interest, and being able to find reliable, trustworthy sources is really important, especially right now,” Goldberg said. 

A member of the SSU BHS chapter, Alek Dawson, commented further on the importance of students being able to effectively navigate the information that is accessible to them online. 

“I am someone who has requested documents from police, from PD’s, reports, and I have also requested things from the FBI, federal institutions that are involved with the populace,” Dawson said. “These are things people can access themselves, it’s not just browsing on the internet, these are real documents that are submitted by federal institutions and put on the web for you to click on.”

As a student-run organization, the SSU BHS chapter is the connection students have to bigger change on the school level, city-wide and even state-wide. 

Last year, SSU won the Washington ban on assault weapons, a major victory for the organization. Following this win, SSU is currently demanding $28 million for mental health personnel in schools by increasing the Amazon Tax. 

Goldberg commented on why the board specifically chose to demand increasing the Amazon Tax in order to support mental health resources in schools. 

“The Amazon Tax is also known as jump start, which is a payroll tax on big businesses that make a lot of money in Seattle,” Goldberg said. “A lot of these big businesses say that they support mental health and that they support youth in Seattle, even though a lot of their actions have been towards the contrary. This would be an opportunity for them to actually take action in supporting what they say they support.”

Goldberg, Aiello and Dawson alike are hoping to see greater involvement and spread the word that this resource exists. 

“I just want people to see that we’re here and we want to help,” Aiello said. “Their role is bringing forward issues they have and their ideas and we as leaders are here just to give them a place to use their voice and help them make change happen.” 

Dawson urged the need for students to combine forces and work together to create change. 

“Everything that is going on right now does affect you,” Dawson said. “If there’s something that is going on in the school that is barring a student from mental health support, that’s barring you from mental health support. It’s not about us vs them, or me vs everyone else. This is about all of us.”

It is part of the mission of the club to make student voices heard. Goldberg started her time in SSU simply conversing on Instagram, but it has turned into something so much more powerful that she hopes to spread to more students. 

“Seeing everything that’s going on around us, it’s really easy to feel powerless as a kid,” Goldberg said. “Everything’s going down the drain, and I felt like I didn’t have a voice, that I couldn’t make change when the people in my communities were hurting. Through SSU I’ve found a way to do that, which has been incredible.” 

The new SSU BHS chapter is bringing this opportunity closer and more accessible to all students. Goldberg, Aiello and Dawson are here and ready to listen if you are looking for a place to use your voice.


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