Updated: Mar 9, 2019
- By Emma Gomes, Staff Writer -
On March 14, 2018, Meredith College participated in the National Walkout Day to honor the 17 victims of the mass shooting that took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14, 2018. Students and staff gathered around the Johnson Hall Fountain during the 10 O’clock hour while 17 volunteers carried a rose in honor of each victim of the shooting and read a short line about gun safety and peaceful protests, then took 17 minutes of silence. Senior Ann Cox, International Studies major, and Junior Micah Clark, Social Work and Sociology major, organized the event and made it possible for Meredith’s community to take part in a nationwide conversation/demonstration. Cox states that her inspiration for bringing this event to campus was “to show solidarity with the people who were risking disciplinary action by taking part in it. Since we don’t have a class to walk out of, we decided to take it a step further and really use it as a platform to launch a conversation about gun reform and gun safety.” Clark said that “a lot of students have unspoken concerns and they don’t feel they have a platform to speak on. I wanted to create a platform where everyone can ask questions and get answers to and not feel excluded from.”
With the support of both students and staff, the turnout was successful. Junior Kirby Jones was one of the 17 volunteers at the demonstration shared insight on her experience; “As a future high school teacher, it was powerful for me to reflect on the power of youth organizing and stand in solidarity with students across the country. I think that the demonstration was a testament to what can happen when young people come together in order to take a stand for justice, a cause I am deeply committed to both now and in my career goals.” Junior Meghan Moss attended the walkout demonstration and said “it is important that we engage in these demonstrations and conversations because it shows that we are being proactive about the safety of Meredith’s campus while also showing that we care about the safety of students across the nation.”
Cox said, “I think in a lot of other space, women are socialized to feel like they don’t have a voice at the table, and here at Meredith we get the chance to be surrounded by women and women’s voices at the table, so having conversations among ourselves on our campus gives us the practice and the resources that we need to take our voices off campus as well.” Clark hopes that students know that “there is a community that is listening, I hope they know they have emotional and social support during this emotionally and tumultuous time. I hope they know they are not alone in their concerns.”
At the end of the demonstration, each attendee received a list of things they can do including contacting members of Congress via phone, letter, e-mail, or Twitter, demanding that they take decisive action for gun safety. People can also donate to Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit started by Congresswoman Gabby Giffords working for gun safety legislation and to get the gun lobby out of Washington. They can also volunteer with North Carolinians Against Gun Violence in a variety of different roles.