Students Speak about the National Walkout

E. Barrett '18 et. al.

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March 14, 2018 was a day which will be memorable for years to come, as this is the date of the National Walkout against gun violence. This walkout was orchestrated by students for the benefit of all citizens who have ever been effected by unjust usage of weapons. Through the usage of social media, protests like this have succeeded in their ability to bring people together with a like-minded set of values to achieve a common goal.

To fully understand the scope of this walkout, I have reached out to people who have experienced the walkout in their own singular ways at different schools across the North East. Through their responses to questions posed below, I hope to bring further understanding and clarification to the topic of gun violence, and how students at various high schools and universities are reacting.

I don’t intend to speak for any of those whom I have surveyed below; however, it is my belief that this is a movement lead by young people for the sake of creating a world we feel privileged to live in, and ideally this is a world lead by a government we have a first hand influence upon. This protest demonstrates that there are a group of people who can collectively agree on the need for change for the betterment of society as a whole.

#neveragain


Name: Rachel P.

 

School: Fredonia High School

 

Grade Level: 12

 

Did you choose to participate? Please elaborate on why or why not.

I chose not to participate because I am not educated enough on the situation. The blanket statement made for the walkout was that it was in honor of the kids who lost their lives but that is not true at all. Many walkouts have been in remembrance of all shootings while others have said it was about gun laws. I will not blindly participate in a walkout that I have no knowledge on just because my peers are doing so.

 

How did your school go about handling the protest (i.e. were there repercussions? What was the planning process like?)

The day before the walkout on the morning announcements a girl and our principal lightly touched on the subject. They said there is a walkout and if you want to go, go ahead, and if not no biggie.

 

What did your walkout entail? (Moment of silence, more outspoken protests, etc.)

At 10:00 an announcement came on to go to the middle school courtyard. A bell was rung and names were read followed by about twelve minutes of silence.

 

Did your school focus on a more political message?

Absolutely not

 

How do you think that other members of your school felt about the National Walkout?

Some Thought it was a waste of time, others used it as a chance to catch up on homework. I haven’t heard anything other than that besides “it was so cold.”

 

Finally, any thoughts in general about the meaning of the protest? Basically, if you feel as though you need to rant or say something I didn’t ask, feel free to do so below:

I thought the entire thing was a good thought but there needed to be a clearer message. What was the protest about, are we remembering one or all shootings? Also people needed to not be on their phones during it, like if you are going to be in a moment of silence don’t take a video of it on snapchat with the geofilter on during the moment. Social media didn’t help the situation, they basically just popularized a situation that needed a more formal and serious approach.


Name: Maddie B. (Nardin Academy Class of 2017)

 

School: Loyola University Maryland

 

Grade Level: Freshman

 

What did the protest on March 14th mean to you?

The protest meant a lot to me, as I feel it did for many other individuals who personally chose to walk out. Traditionally, students (or young adults) have always been on the forefront of protesting, often simply because their parents are used to the normalized roles that they grew up with after they had their turn calling for change. This can largely be seen in the feminist movement or gay rights movement from a bit ago. But, I think this time was different, because it was just students protesting for other students for something which seems crazy to have to protest for.

 

Did you choose to participate? Please elaborate on why or why not.

I did choose to participate, because gun control has been a very important issue for years, and the fact that we still haven’t properly addressed it is not okay. I wanted to be able to stand (symbolically) with students of all ages across the country and be unified with them in our mutual call for action.

 

How did your school go about handling the protest (i.e. were there repercussions? What was the planning process like?)

Our protest was a lot smaller than anyone anticipated- we have 4,000 undergraduate and only about 70 people walked out.  All the teachers supported us- some by walking with us and some by emailing support. It wasn’t planned very extensively and it was very peaceful, so the university more supported us than challenged us with repercussions.

 

What did your walkout entail? (Moment of silence, more outspoken protests, etc.)

We all met at Starbucks (a popular landmark on our campus) and walked out together to stand in the middle of the quad. Many other people (staff, faculty, etc) met us on the lawn and we stood in silence for 17 minutes. A few people had signs with #NEVERAGAIN written in bold red marker, but most just supported with their presence. After the 17 minutes, a boy sang an acoustic rendition of Amazing Grace and we all joined in. Afterwards, we all walked back to Starbucks and there was a group panel discussing ways that Loyola could help bring change in pursuit of this cause.

 

Did your school focus on a more political message?

We focused more on a space to remember all the victims of gun violence (specifically in school shootings) of the past few years. It was more about paying respect rather than protesting.

 

How do you think that other members of your school felt about the National Walkout?

I think that many members of Loyola support the cause for the National Walkout, I just believe that our specific protest wasn’t publicized very well so people didn’t know it was happening. Through talking with my peers who didn’t choose to walkout, I realized that many people felt the same way we all did.

 

Finally, any thoughts in general about the meaning of the protest? Basically, if you feel as though you need to rant or say something I didn’t ask, feel free to do so below:

I wish that our school’s protest had been bigger, though I know that it is the pure fact that we (as a nation) managed to coordinate a protest that echoed across all of us even if it was to a small degree.


Name: Elise H.

 

School: Hamburg

 

Grade Level: 12

 

What did the protest on March 14th mean to you?

It meant for me that I was protesting against gun violence particularly gun violence, pushing for ways to make schools safe so school shootings will never happen again. I also was remembering the victims and thinking and praying for their families.

 

Did you choose to participate? Please elaborate on why or why not.

Yes, I wanted to be a part of something big, something students were doing to advocate for their rights.

 

How did your school go about handling the protest (i.e. were there repercussions? What was the planning process like?)

The student board got the school to allow people to leave and meet at a designated area. There was a forum for students a week prior to discuss details and the meaning of the protest and a meeting for teachers. On the day of, the school and a police officer and teachers supervise.

 

What did your walkout entail? (Moment of silence, more outspoken protests, etc.)

Ours had 17 minutes of silence, and people brought posters.

 

Did your school focus on a more political message?

Our school didn’t want to be involved in political matter but some students focused on a political message while others didn’t. We couldn’t come to a real agreement at the forum but it was important that we did this together.

 

How do you think that other members of your school felt about the National Walkout?

I knew some people did not want to participate because they believe that this wouldn’t change violence at schools.

 

Finally, any thoughts in general about the meaning of the protest? Basically, if you feel as though you need to rant or say something I didn’t ask, feel free to do so below:

I am proud that my school was able to do this and that there were no punishments. However, I think having the teachers there was unnecessary because there was a cop and the teachers were talking when the students were silent. There was a threat on the protest a few days prior, so that is why there were police.


Thank you to those who volunteered their thoughts and opinions to better our collective understanding.

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