The Grizzly Growl

Walkout or Sit In

Students' Plan to Protest Gun Violence Nationwide

Hala Louviere, Co-Editor in Chief

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The school shooting in Parkland, Florida was unlike any other. Often, media coverage dies down after people realize their impact is minimal. However, one month later, survivors of the massacre and their supporters still stand united in defense of the right to a safe education. Marjory Stoneman Douglas students have taken to social media platforms and politicians to spread support for gun control. In honor of this effort and the students that lost their lives, a national school walkout has been organized for March 14th.

On Wednesday morning, students across the nation are encouraged to walk out of class on March 14th at 10 A.M. for 17 minutes, in honor of the 17 who lost their lives in Florida. Many question the purpose, but as the walkout gains more attention and adherents, it is clear: students want to show their desire for gun control, a safe education, and demonstrate to lawmakers that they will not forget. Walkouts, no matter the reason, encourage free speech of students. They are a platform for us to express our beliefs. Potentially, this walkout will be a platform for change.

Mr. Quarnberg in contrast feels this protest may not necessarily be the right time to speak out. “I appreciate students’ concern for security and safety,” he said. “My concern for the walkout is that if it’s not done right, we will be bringing more disrespect to the protest. Most kids won’t know why they’re walking out.” In addition, Quarnberg believes that walkouts needs to be organized, singular occasions in order for them to make a true impact. This walkout, he feels, has little organization and comes too soon after Copper Hills’ walkout after the 2016 election. He foresees students using the walkout as an excuse to leave school.

If students are planning to use the walkout as a means of skipping class, don’t follow through. This disrespectful move takes away from the meaning and impact of the protest, you will be mocking those who want change and those who lost their lives. Also, the walkout will only last 17 minutes, which is hardly enough time to really make a statement. Quarnberg hopes students understand that if they leave class for the walkout, they will be marked absent or truant. “In any protest, there’s something that is sacrificed,” he said, citing voting rights protests in Selma, Alabama. “I don’t expect [students to be hurt], but they’ve got to understand there is a sacrifice.” Quarnberg concluded by saying, “Your voice needs to be heard. Choose the right cause.” It is now up to you to decide if this cause is right for your voice and if you are willing to make the sacrifice.

Despite the character development walkouts offer, Jordan School District teachers have been told not to participate, or even really address the subject in class. Last weekend, an email was sent from Jordan Education Association (J.E.A.) to teachers stating that they are to stay in the classroom, even if their students leave. “You could be written up if you walk out during the school day,” the email said, written by Vicki Olsen, J.E.A. President. Teachers discouraged from participating cannot be an example for their students of expressing themselves. Especially in lower grade schools, children need to see it is okay for them to have opinions and demonstrate them to create change. Ultimately, teachers have the choice to act but may have consequences. In a meeting with teachers, Mr. Quarnberg advised that teachers do whatever they need to, to keep their students safe, “You are responsible for their safety,” he said.

Not all school districts have the same outlook on the walkout as Jordan. Salt Lake City School District’s Superintendent released a statement on their viewpoint. It begins with the measures the district is taking to protect students. They understand that “if students don’t feel safe in our schools, they cannot focus on learning.” Throughout the district, all threats including social media “jokes” will be thoroughly investigated and taken seriously. Last week, SLCSD passed a Violence Free Schools Resolution which states that all parties within the school district will work together to ensure safety. In terms of the walkout, they support students who participate as well as those who do not. Some schools have even organized individual programs such as promoting acts of kindness and befriending new students.

The walkout is a good opportunity for those who support gun control, or simply want to honor the late students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, to share their voices. If it’s the right time for you to speak up, be sure to join the walkout on March 14th from 10:00 until 10:17. If not, try to perform 17 acts of kindness or meet 17 new people. You can also research gun violence and share your findings with others or write to your legislators. One month after the Parkland shooting, let’s remember these students and stand up for them.

Source: https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/11/us/national-school-walkout-march-14/index.html

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The Official Student Voice of Copper Hills High School
Walkout or Sit In