UMF Students Discuss Walkouts over Recent School Shootings
By Olivia White Contributing Writer
UMF students support different views towards the walkouts happening to show support towards students involved in the Parkland school shooting, where seventeen students and staff were killed. Schools across the country coordinated a school walkout on Mar. 14th.
Carson Hope, president of the Advocates for the Education of Young Children club on campus, wrote in an email that she believes that all students should use their voice to help better our country in any way possible. Hope “applaud[ed] every student who used their voice on March 14th. Because of inclement weather, a lot of willing students across New England did not participate in protests, but I encourage them to let their voice
be heard every day of the year.”
Stephen Riitano, President of the Aspiring Educators club, agreed with Hope, saying that in order to make changes students should become more active within politics.
“College students should get an absentee ballot if they are away in college and vote in all the elections,” Riitano said. “Your voice matters, so get it out there, not just in the streets, but in the voting booths as well.”
Riitano further elaborated on his views towards the event suggesting that administration should have made it a school-wide event for the whole 17 minutes.
“Have students lead a protest or walk out if they wish, but also provide spaces for discussion that students could go to and have staff facilitate or lead various groups or activities for the duration of the 17 minutes to make it all the more impact full and meaningful,” Riitano said.
Patrick Fallon, President of the College Republicans, did not agree with Riitano on how schools should have handled the event. Fallon does not believe that schools should be taking this approach, regardless of the cause of the walkout.
“If a school allows this for one cause, they will have to allow it for every walkout that students want to do,” Fallon said.
Riitano wrote in an email interview that he was filling in as a substitute teacher on the day of the school walkout. While Riitano was not able to participate himself as he was required to supervise those who did not want to participate, he felt as though school districts handled the situation appropriately if they let students leave and voice their opinions.
While Fallon and Riitano may have different views towards student participation in such an event during school, they do believe that the protesters have handled themselves well. Jeffrey Willey, president of the College Democrats, laughed as he said that the students handled themselves “better than some adults” while participating in the protest.
The three students agreed that someone needs to take action and implement a piece of legislation that can help deter those who may have malicious intentions from buying weapons. Willey said he believed that a waiting period for buying weapons could deter those who may want to cause harm to anyone.
In addition to lending their voices to the conversation surrounding gun violence, UMF also participated in a “March for our Lives” protest on Mar. 24. The march began at 11 a.m. at Mallet Elementary School and ended at Meeting House Park, where those involved had the opportunity to listen to different speakers and discuss gun control measures.