Age of advocacy

Kassidy Crown

How ordinary people are taking charge in light of inaction from politicians

It has been just three weeks since Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students suffered through one of the top 10 deadliest school shootings since Columbine. Within this time, they have taken on the charge of leaders of the gun control debate and shouldered the responsibility for reform within our society.

As teenagers, they have led the nation in the argument for gun reform, challenged politicians during town hall meetings, met with legislators, held rallies for gun reform, and called out politicians on social media for not taking action.

Furthermore, students across the nation are taking action by tweeting with “#NationalSchoolWalkout.”

On April 20, the anniversary of the Columbine massacre, high school students across the nation are planning to take part in this national school walkout protest.

High school students across the nation are also planning various walkouts later this month. These movements of solidarity and advocacy along the Parkland survivors are receiving mixed responses, though. Some high schools, for example, are threatening to discipline those by suspending students who plan to walk out.

Colleges, on the other hand, have announced that they will not penalize students for walking out, whether it be for scholarships or the admission process in general.

These are the examples of activism and advocacy for change.

With students taking to social media during and after shootings, we can no longer pretend that they do not happen on a more and more regular basis. We cannot deny that they happen, period.

While high schools have been receiving much of the attention for school shootings and responses coming from students who survive them, colleges and college students should engage in these conversations too.

If colleges are willing to stand by their words of not punishing incoming students who walk out in high school, then they should allow their current students to participate in the walkouts, as well. If not, we are risking erasing a whole segment of schools who have suffered from shootings.

Not long after the Parkland shooting, Fox News’ Shepard Smith listed off all 25 fatal school shootings at elementary and high schools in America from Columbine in 1999 to Stoneman Douglas.

The list took about two and a half minutes to read off, including the number of students who lost their lives and the locations of the shootings.

Just imagine how much longer this list would be if it had included shootings that involved students being injured but not killed by the shooter, or if had also included fatal college shootings.

The fact that there have been 25 fatal school shootings since 1999, and that there have been 18 school shootings (as of the Parkland shooting) this year, is absolutely terrifying and should be unacceptable.

We cannot limit our outreach or silence our voices on this.

In order to show our solidarity with the Parkland survivors, as well as the numerous other students who have locked themselves in classrooms, fearing for their lives, college students nationwide and at SPU should consider joining in the walkout on April 20.

Colleges, like high schools, should be choosing our first Amendment right of free expression and the right to protest over one day of school. They should be choosing our right to learn in a safe environment, without the fear of never seeing our families again, over punishing students for saying “Never Again.”