Ahead of ‘March For Our Lives,’ Student Walkouts Against Gun Violence Occur Nationwide and Locally

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Source: edweek.org

Amajla Tricic, Assistant News Editor

After the events of March 5’s lockdown, the Utica College campus and surrounding community is looking for ways to build, empower and move forward.

People are coming together to speak up about the emergency scare and what the community can do to prevent a recurring situation in the wake of the Parkland, Florida school shooting. A walkout was held at Proctor High School and a March For Our Lives event is planned for 12 p.m. Saturday, March 24 starting at Thomas R. Proctor High School and ending in Oneida Square in solidarity with the larger, national march in Washington D.C.

Maggie Parker, a high school student at Proctor, participated in the school walk-out that was supported by the administration. Parker was thankful that the staff respected the wishes of the students who wanted to honor the 17 victims lost in the Parkland shooting.

Some school administrations across the country have not been as considerate, many making the controversial decision to suspend any students who were not in class and participated in a nation-wide walkout.

“The walk out came to be through the planning of two awesome young women, Audrey Eady and Yupha Lwin,” Parker said. “They worked with our school officials to organize a rally in the school’s main gym so that students could sign up and attend as well as volunteer to speak, which I had the opportunity to do so.”

Parker believes the event was handled smoothly and deduces that the walkout/rally is important.

“It gave students a chance to stand in solidarity with the survivors who are uniting with students across the country to advocate for change,” Parker said. “It gave us a chance to be heard and reach out to not only our fellow students but our faculty and members of the community as well.”

Parker said that issues as serious as the recent Parkland shooting and the UC lockdown are felt by everyone and naturally cause alarm within a community. She also added that with the emotions come motivation to make a change.

“I think many of us were scared and upset but also ready to do what we can at a young age to speak out and take action,” she said.

The March for Our Lives event in Utica was organized by Parker because she had not seen any protests and rallies in the area being set up.

“The event is part of this movement across the country where students are organizing and leading protests, rallies and marches to demand safety in schools, stronger gun control and an end to gun violence among other things,” Parker said.  “I know that there were several students who were passionate and would be willing to fight for the cause.”

Parker gathered a group of students who wanted to get involved and co-plan as well as make sure to contact members of Citizen Action to make the protest a reality.

For UC Students, a potential threat on campus and an hours-long lockdown became a reality and changed the perspective that was previously untainted by an active shooter threat.

“After I was put in that position, it made me realize I don’t want this to happen to anyone else,” said junior Bailey Bach. “I came out of it thinking in a different way.”

Bach endorses the need for change but hopes that with advocacy and protests that several different issues will be put to the forefront.

“I think we need to address more problems other than just the guns because it’s not just the guns, it’s not just security, it’s not just being kind to one another,” she said. “It’s all of it. There is a way we can make it a less common occurrence.”

She also adds that people should be involved for the right reasons or else the importance of it will be taken away from the people who see the seriousness of the issue.

“If you are involved in protests, rallies, marches, anything like that, make sure your voice is heard, speak up,” she said.

Alexis Emmons, a junior who was trapped in a classroom during the lockdown, sees some protests as a benefit and others as counterproductive.

She also expressed her frustration with the lack of support coming from older adults.

“We should be treated like adults, we are college students and our fears should be understood and not overlooked,” Emmons said. “I think there should be more communication between students and professors and the professors should be more alert about the potential severity of the situation. Us not knowing what was going on created more of a panic.”

Emmons was disappointed with the decision to hold classes on March 6 while UC received more threats. She feels that the threats and fear of a future situation is taken more seriously by students than the adults.

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