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Student Activism

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Massachusetts Junior Launches Campaign to Oust Governor

Armed with an e-mail account, a “Go back to Utah” T-shirt, and the support of at least 33 other high school students, Xander Zebrose is convinced that he can remove Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts from office.

There is only one problem: Because he is only 16, he can’t vote. Neither can most of the members of his 34-student organization.

But that did not stop Mr. Zebrose from founding, in January, Students Against Mitt Romney. He and other students across Massachusetts contend that the governor’s budget cuts are weakening the quality of their educations.

Mr. Zebrose, a junior at Somerville High School in the Boston suburb of Somerville, said the cuts have affected him directly because they meant he could not register for electives such as public speaking or Latin this semester. As an avid Boston Globe reader and former presidential-campaign volunteer for Sen. John Kerry, Mr. Zebrose said he is very aware of the cuts that have been made to education, particularly in Somerville.

So what is the group’s main objective?

“Our long-term goals is to get Mitt Romney out of public office,” Mr. Zebrose said. “In the short term, we are focusing on getting more local aid for cities and towns than what Romney is proposing.”

Mr. Zebrose and other students have circulated a “Restore Crucial Local Aid” e-petition that has been signed by 56 students and adults in the past month. He has written a commentary for his local community newspaper voicing concern about the governor’s proposed budget for fiscal 2006.

The effort has also received media attention, which has not gone unnoticed by the governor’s office.

Commenting on the group, Felix Browne, a deputy press secretary for the Republican governor, said: “They are welcome to their opinion, but judging from some of their statements it sounds like they may not have all the facts.” He says that the governor, since taking office in 2003, has converted a $650 million state deficit into a projected $700 million surplus.

This spring, the group, which held its first meeting March 12, plans to distribute fliers on weekdays near subway stations during rush hour.

Though Mr. Zebrose does not expect thousands of students to join him, he does expect a “few hundred,” who can connect statewide on the group’s Yahoo! Groups page called “Students Against Mitt.”

“I think my organization is tapping into the genuine interests of high school students, who are interested in politics and usually overlooked,” Mr. Zebrose said.

Vol. 24, Issue 28, Page 18

Published in Print: March 23, 2005, as Student Activism

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