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Students participate in nationwide school walkouts in effort to change gun laws

KK Hanner, news editor

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In light of the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida, school walkouts have been orchestrated by various organizations through social media in order to encourage the government to implement gun control. Students will be peacefully walking out of their classrooms and hallways, exercising their freedom of speech, with the hopes of reducing gun violence.

“I don’t know what it was about this last incident but it just seemed to resonate with a lot more people,” Dean Kevin Schrammel said. “It hit home. This [shooting] seems like a tipping point.”

BG students already participated on a walkout on Feb. 17. According to Schrammel, there were about 100 students participating. The walkouts seemed to gain traction through social media and word of mouth in BGs hallways.

“I’m not sure it will make a big impact,” senior Korie Morris said. “I just hope that the walkouts will bring the topic more to the forefront of our local politicians’ eyes and result in them trying to get something done.”

Additionally, Women’s March organizers are encouraging students to walkout for 17 minutes (for the 17 lives lost) on Mar. 14 (one month after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting) to protest gun violence at 10 a.m. A national school walkout is planned for Apr. 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting, at 10am.

“Staff recognizes that if students do walk out, we want to provide a safe environment,” Schrammel said. “We want to make sure that kids are being respectful and well behaved and there’s nothing else that would compromise their safety.”

The school has taken some initiative on the walkouts and on the topic of danger in schools. Principal Wardle issued a Schoology post to inform students of how BG will handle attendance and students’ right to expression. On the announcements, BG Officer Adams informed us of how to stay safe and follow procedure in a lockdown.

“I think the school is thinking not so much about the walkout, but about the reason people are doing so,” junior John Burzawa said. “I think they are looking at security because of what happened in Florida.”

While students are permitted to walk out, teachers’ responsibilities lies with their lessons and their remaining students. They must continue to do so throughout the school day.

“It’s good to see from a student’s perspective, or at least from a prospective politician’s perspective, because you get to see other students engaging in politics,” Burzawa said. “If the walkout is something that takes that level of apathy and increases it, I think it’s an interesting way to see people organize themselves.”

The walkouts have grasped the attention of students and increased their political participation, something uncommon in the youth of America. According to civicyouth.org, 50% of eligible young people—about 24 million youth, ages 18-29—voted in the 2016 general election.

While most students at BG aren’t eligible to vote, they still are pushing for their voices to be heard. First semester, BG offered voter registration, encouraging students to stay politically active outside of their social science classes.

“I think students are getting more involved because kids are the main people that are being affected,” Morris said. “In Florida the people who lost their lives were kids. They are seeing the problem at hand and want something to get done.”

While no one can predict the outcome of the organized protests, we know that they have picked up some level of attention. Hashtags, tweets and posts fill feeds, creating a medium towards national attention. A BG walkout snapchat has even been created to inform students.

“I think it could go two ways, sometimes as you have repeated things it could gain more steam and things could pick up and there would be more participation or it loses its effectiveness.” Schrammel said.

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