Students show activism in various forms

Staff members Asha Lewis ’18 and Dylan Schwartz ’18 share their opinions on the walkout

Asha Lewis and Dylan Schwartz

Asha Lewis

I walked out…

When I walk into school in the morning, I carry my backpack and my books. I do not walk in with the forethought that this might be the place I take my last breath. Last month, the 14 students and three adults at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School didn’t walk into school that morning with that forethought, and neither should I.  

I walked out of school on March 14 to honor those murdered while doing the same things I do every day. They took the same classes that I take, yet I was able to leave my classroom with my hopes, dreams and my future still ahead of me. The 14 students students and 3 adults at Stoneman Douglas did not, and that is something I can’t get over. They had their life snatched away from them before they even had the chance to live it.

I want to clarify that the walkout was not entirely about gun control. First and foremost, the walkout was about honoring the 17 sacrifices made to a country that cannot protect its children or its educators. But it also is about gun control and it is political because politics and lawmaking are confluent. All we’re asking for is protection. As one of the signs that most resonated with me read: are our lives more important than your guns?

Without the support of the administration, walking out of class for 17 minutes is considerably disruptive, therefore not supported under our First Amendment. Our administration was supportive and while some may find that surprising I, however, did not. Three of those 17 lives lost last month were teachers acting to protect their students. Our teachers, our principles, and our administration are just as threatened by gun violence as their students, if not more. They’re marching for their lives too.

Since that fatal day at Stoneman Douglas, more than ten schools in Michigan have received threats of gun violence. ‘Thoughts and prayers’ didn’t protect the 14 students and 3 teachers in Parkland, Florida, so why should I expect them to protect me?  

I want to leave you with this: I do not hate guns. I hate gun violence. I hate that my life is invaluable compared to the backdoor dealings and donations from the NRA and a steadfast conservative platform. I hate that it’s been over 40 years since the first mass school shooting and our country still struggles with an issue that is distinct to our country and our country alone. With this walkout, we are not only raising our voices but making them heard. We are manifesting our dissatisfaction in the votes we cast in November. This walkout is not a one time thing, this is not a futile movement and that is why I walked out. Because I have a feeling, a fervent, indestructible feeling, that we are the generation to end gun violence.

Dylan Schwartz

I stayed seated…

When it comes to political issues, it’s well known and accepted that having the dissenting opinion is frequently met with resistance. Going against the grain, especially when my voice is outnumbered by so many, isn’t exactly my favorite thing to do, though I have some points to make regarding the recent walkout.

First of all, I don’t understand why this peaceful protest had to be a school walkout. Walking out of a school is protest aimed directly at the school itself. At first, it was about honoring the victims. Then, it was gun control. I’m still not sure which is which. Though I don’t understand what is being protested, I know for a fact EGRHS had nothing to do with it. Walking out during school is plainly disrespectful.

It baffled me that the administration was complacent, and encouraged the walkout. It felt more like a pep-rally than a student-led exercise in free speech.

Secondly, conflating politics with tragedy is, in my opinion, never okay, and it cannot be denied that this occurred during the walkout. Standing on the graves of those who died in the Florida shooting is heartless, and the inclination is clear; “if you don’t agree with us, you don’t care enough about the victims.”

Signs were forbidden at first, but of course cropped up. If you want to protest for gun control, be my guest. If you want to honor the victims of the shooting, go for it. But if you conflate the two into one “protest” to push your political agenda, I’m sorry but you won’t get my support. Simply using lost lives to persuade your peers of your political outlook is nothing but a tactic.

The seventeen minutes for the seventeen victims was inappropriate. It would be entirely acceptable for the parents and families to say “I want gun control because a gun killed my child.” But we’re a random public school, in a random part of the country.  People who weren’t involved and who pretend to care in order to win social justice points get on my nerves.

Most of those with the dissenting opinion simply skipped school and didn’t make a big deal out of it. We all know the echo chamber is strong here. Few who share my opinion have the stomach or the motivation to speak out, knowing what happened on the East Vision Instagram shortly after the walkout. Tolerance of the opposition is practically non-existent. Someone simply presented their opinion, same as the students who took their First Amendment rights to the absolute extreme and walked out of school. They were attacked for it, and ganged up on. That’s why I wasn’t crazy about writing this article, but here goes nothing.