Flagler students protest gun violence in school-wide walk out

Students and faculty lay on the ground in Kenan Plaza in honor of the lives lost due to gun violence in the U.S. Photo: Katie Garwood

By Katherine Hamilton | gargoyle@flagler.edu

Masses of Flagler College students gathered together today in an organized walk-out to stand against gun violence in light of the recent Parkland shooting.

At 10:00 a.m., the muffled chatters of students and faculty fell quiet as they all simultaneously got on the ground. The bell tower chimed a sweet song, juxtaposing the sorrow felt by students and adults all over the country over the loss of more young lives to gun violence.

They laid as if they were dead for 17-minutes—a tribute to the 17 lives taken just one month ago.

The consensus felt around campus is that college students will not be quieted, especially when school shootings have become an unwanted fixture in the media and in the United States.

Students Paige Armstrong and Hasani Malone organized the event to show that enough is enough.

Two students lay on the ground as part of the school walk-out. Photo: Katie Garwood

“We are out here to protest the inaction at the hands of our elected officials, on behalf of the gun-violence epidemic that’s happening across America, but specifically on college campuses and school campuses,” Armstrong said. “I think as the only nation that this continues to happen in, where we continue to face inaction—it’s a national embarrassment. Obviously its fearful for everybody. I’m more concerned with young adults and students than college students specifically, but it affects us all.”

Since the start of 2018, there have been 14 school shootings, leveling out at more than one shooting per week.

“I’m always in fear now. Like I was scared to go here today, but I wanted to support those who died,” said Heather Hunter, another student at Flagler. “In the end, we are the voters, and we are the ones who are going to be taking them out of office eventually.”

Flagler College was one school of many to participate in a nationwide walk-out. Over 3,000 schools were estimated to have joined the protest, making discontent hard for policy-makers to ignore.

“I think showing that so many people care this much is a big thing in itself. Hopefully [policy makers] will look at that and think, ‘Oh wow, we do need to make a difference because this is affecting so many lives of children and adults everywhere,’” said Julia Manze, a sophomore at Flagler College.

Flagler College President Joseph Joyner participated in the walk-out, leaving a meeting at 10 a.m. to attend. Photo: Katie Garwood

Many students have reported feeling afraid or apprehensive going to school knowing that school shootings can happen anywhere at any time and are more and more prevalent.

“I do feel unsafe in class because of tragedies, and I don’t think arming teachers is the solution,” said Colton Neubauer, student at Flagler College and Student Government Association President. “Specifically at Flagler College, I think we have a wonderful security department, and they’re doing everything they can, but this issue does transcend the college, and I do feel unsafe in a college classroom. That’s something that the state legislature and congress need to address.”

Overall, if students don’t see change, they will persist until they are heard.

“We are keen on what’s going on and we do demand change,” Neubauer said. “So if change doesn’t come, yeah, I think you’ll see some more demonstrations. We have got a very fired up generation.”

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