Students gathered on Thursday, Feb. 22 to share their individual thoughts and form a collective voice in response to the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida leaving 17 people dead.
A group of more than a dozen juniors led a community discussion among students to make sense of the heinous gun violence plaguing America’s schools. The open forum-style discussion - which gets to the core of Social Advocacy Based learning - allowed students to share their perspectives on topics driving the national dialogue on gun violence such as race, mental illness, arming teachers at school, and gun laws around the world.
Compelled by a sense of personal obligation and guided by the Critical Concerns of non-violence, the primary emotion and sentiment express by many students was “we have to make a change.”
“The whole purpose of Mercy is to make us loud, courageous leaders,” said junior Eva Macy. “So let’s starting doing what we can to come together and start making people hear what we’re saying.”
Junior Tiffany Copenhaver said “we are not trying to stay quite, we want to make a change.”
Touching on the ideas of arming teachers to ensure safety during school was a notion that only seems to further the problem of gun violence.
“That’s just going to give more reasons to promote guns and make things more violent,” senior Vanessa Chilton said.
“Having so many guns around is the problem,” said junior Angelica Colmenares. “These shootings keep happening because of guns so it’s a bad idea to bring more guns into schools. If these guns aren’t around then there’s no way for people to get a hold of them - there’s just too much temptation.”
The assembly represented a moment when students are looking to become the solution rather than waiting for the status quo to change.
“It feels like we’re having the same conversations with gun laws,” said senior Morgan Hildula. “We should start thinking about what we do next - that’s our obligation.”
“We shouldn’t have to worry about our lives, we should be worrying about passing a math test and getting into college,” said freshman Zepyur Kasparian. “This is not a liberal or conservative issue, this is a human issue. If we listen to what democrats or republicans are saying, it’s just a big game and it’s only a distraction because in the end we need to come together because we all want to be successful.”
Many ideas that can move students forward from conversation to action were discussed including participating in a national walkout day on March 14 when students will walkout of class for 17 minutes to pray and honor the 17 students and faculty killed in Florida.
“This isn’t a time to skip class and mess around,” said junior Angel Benjamin. “We want to take things seriously so that we can be heard and make a change.”
Senior Julia Nacario also encouraged students over 18 to register to vote.
“This a group of women who can make their voices heard when we register to vote,” Nacario said. “Start making a change by voting people into office who can manage this gun control issue. Get involved in the midterm elections, vote in every election and let’s start making a difference.”
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