By Olivia White Contributing Writer
UMF students, educators, and politicians showed their support for the Parkland school shooting by participating in marches held in both Farmington and Portland.
Kayla Suzanne, a student teacher at Mt. Blue Elementary, and Vanessa Brown, a student activist, both had the opportunity to be involved with the march in Farmington. Both had nothing but good things to say about the march.
“Overall, there was a positive and peaceful atmosphere,” said Brown. “Everyone wanted to make sure everyone else stayed safe.”
Many UMF students travelled to Portland to join their march. (Photo by Tina Hall)
Suzanne participated in the Farmington March for Our Lives as a speaker, whose speech cried out for help from the government and society to “think about and remember our basic civil rights, which should never get in the way of us feeling safe in our schools, because every child deserves a chance!”
Suzanne says that this part of her speech means a tremendous amount “because of how many people came out to the march from all different generations and backgrounds.”
On the same day as the march in Farmington, Jeffrey Willey, President of the College Democrats, and Eliza Robinson, another student activist, participated in the march held in Portland, Maine. This march encompassed around five to eight thousand participants. These participants ranged from grade school children to college-aged and beyond. Willey described the march as a “lively environment.”
One of the most memorable events during the Portland march was a marine who gave a speech at the end of the march. Protesters cried during the marine’s speech when he used personal experience in the military to explain why he believed there should be a control on guns within the United States. Willey’s major takeaway from his speech was when the marine explained how he has “seen friends die.”
Robinson and Willey both acknowledged the constant chants being sung by students throughout the streets. Willey remembered one chant that rung out throughout the streets, “enough is enough.” Willey hopes these movements will continue to make an impact not only on students, but that they will make an impact on those who have the authority to change legislature.
Willey was surprised to see no one protesting the march. While Portland may not have had protestors, the March for Our Lives in Farmington had many. Brown said, “There were people who were protesting the march, and for the majority of the people who were there, we tried to focus more on the people that were speaking rather than focusing on the people.”
Willey acknowledged that some students may not have been able to participate in these events. Willey suggested that people who want to be involved in political change should call and write to their senators and representatives and vote for those who have a vision for change.
Senator Susan Collins:
68 Sewall Street Room 507
Augusta, Maine 04330
Senator Angus King:
4 Gabriel Drive Suite 3
Augusta, Maine 04330
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
Farmington Community Members, from UMF to surrounding high schools, gather to march in support of Gun Control. (Photo by Eryn Finnegan)
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.