On Feb. 14, 2018, a gunman rampaged through Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Fourteen children and three staff members were slaughtered. Now, students who survived the shooting have had enough, and they’re taking action.
Standing with them are thousands of students across the country who, like the students at Stoneman Douglas, are tired of feeling unsafe in their schools. They are tired of hearing about children their own age being killed and Congress doing nothing to stop it from happening again. Many of these students are partaking in a national “March for Our Lives” on March 24, a nationwide protest of gun violence and a second demonstration on April 20, the anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre.
While some school and district administrators have responded with words of support, others have discouraged their students from participating in these non-violent demonstrations. In a letter sent to parents and guardians, Peoria Public Schools Superintendent Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat wrote: “All Peoria Public Schools students and staff will remain in school. We will not be participating in the national protest events.” While well intentioned, these schools are discouraged their students from speaking up about an issue they care deeply about.
Universities across the nation, including MIT, the University of Virginia and Illinois State University, have promised high school students that if they are suspended or otherwise punished for participating in non-violent protests against gun violence, it will not affect their college admission chances. I am so proud of Bradley University for joining this long and growing list of universities who support these courageous students.
These students are speaking their truth and should not be silenced. The students who participate in these demonstrations are tomorrow’s leaders, and we should be so privileged as to have them join the Bradley University community. I ask students, faculty and alumni of Bradley University to stand with these students and show their support.
The tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School could be a turning point in our nation’s history. This is an opportunity to create change we so desperately need. Students have noticed. They’re speaking up. We as a Bradley community must show them we’re listening – and that every voice matters here. When these students see the change they are demanding, we should be so proud as to say that Bradley University stood by their side.
Junior elementary education major