Wednesday, March 14, the campus was quietly abuzz with the idea of a walkout in honor of the victims of the Parkland, Florida shooting that would take place at 10 a.m. and last 17 minutes. I arrived at the Sunken Garden several minutes before the walkout was intended to start, very unsure about what to expect.
When I got there, there were only a few people milling around, but by five minutes past 10, there was a line of people stretching almost all the way across the Sunken Garden.
As thrilling as it was to see a large group of people coming together in support of the victims of gun violence, the walkout seemed to lack true meaning.
With no speakers and little organization beyond flyers and posters to sign, no one seemed to know what was happening or what to expect. I had assumed that there would be an organized moment of silence, but in the 30 minutes I was there, nothing of the sort occurred. The walkout organizers were passing out flyers for a new club that they are hoping to form to address gun violence, which is very admirable.
However, the walkout itself seemed self-indulgent. Nearly everyone I talked to (including myself) did not have a 10 a.m. class that they actually were walking out of.
Also, on a college campus, there are very few consequences for skipping class or showing up 20 minutes late, whereas the high schoolers who were walking out across the country were facing much greater consequences.
While I understand that it is not necessary to make a sacrifice in order for a protest to count, it does make the protest more meaningful.
This, combined with the fact that there was very little organization, made it seem like the walkout was more of an opportunity for students to post on their social media about how great they were than to honor the Parkland victims or learn about steps forward that could be taken in order to prevent gun violence in the future.
I do believe that the organizers and all of the students gathered did truly have good intentions, but the execution was poor.
There was a great deal of potential for students to learn about ways to contact their legislators or donate to organizations fighting gun violence (like Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action and many more that can easily be found in a quick Google search), and it saddened me that this opportunity was ignored. At the very least, I would have appreciated an official moment of silence to pause and honor the victims of Parkland and all previous school shootings.
I do appreciate the effort that the walkout organizers made and that they are planning on forming a club here on campus to combat gun violence. I am incredibly heartened by the large number of students who came to the walkout, and I hope we can all find ways to encourage taking action to make a difference and move toward a better future together.
Email Anna Boustany at firstname.lastname@example.org.