Hellgate United Creates Platform for Human Rights Awareness, Activism

Josey MacDonald, Reporter

The fight for human rights is long, and seemingly never-ending, but over the years activism has continued to bring change. Many organizations and high schools across the country have formed human rights clubs to spread awareness of current issues and get more people involved with activism. Hellgate United is one such club, described on their webpage as “a group dedicated to bringing equal human rights to our school and our world.”

The club is student led, but is guided and organized by history teacher Rachel Lunde. Lunde said the club aims to “help local organizations and populations that have been overlooked, and spread awareness of human rights issues.” The club is non-political and has covered a number of issues over the years, including domestic violence, refugees, and hunger. 

Some past projects include a food drive for the Missoula Food Bank, Diversity Week presentations (last year the focus was refugees), and the creation of pamphlets to inform the school about overlooked or misunderstood issues, such as domestic violence. They are currently working on organizing a toiletry drive. All items will go to Soft Landing, a local nonprofit that helps refugees in the community. 

Hellgate United began two years ago as an alternative to Amnesty, which is an international human rights club. Amnesty focused mainly on writing letters and petitions, and Lunde wanted to create something more specific to Hellgate that could do more and be more student led. 

Kate Smith joined Hellgate United because Lunde strongly encouraged her to. She enjoys the club because she feels like she is making a difference. “I feel like a lot of student run clubs have big goals but then just sit around and talk about stuff,” she said. She likes the feeling of achievement the club gives her.

Hellgate United meets Mondays at lunch in room 256. There are often snacks (The first week of the 2019 school year there were brownies and zucchini bread).  New members are always welcome. Anybody who is interested is encouraged to come by and check it out.