By Emma Kaohi | The Broadside (Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org)
On Feb. 14, students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., ran in fear for their safety and livelihood. One month later, on March 14, thousands across the country participated in walk-outs and took a stand against gun violence.
On campus, second-year student Anthony Lanuza organized Central Oregon Community College’s own walk-out, posting flyers around campus encouraging others to join the conversation about gun violence.
“It’s an issue that’s pretty controversial in our country right now, and I wanted to give people a chance and support their side and stand up together. I just wanted people to come out and support their side; it really doesn’t matter what side of the political spectrum you are,” Lanuza said. “I just wanted people to stand together against people dying. I felt that we could all get together and figure out a solution and we can only do that by talking and sharing with each other.”
Starting at 10 o’clock, students and faculty stood and discussed the issue for 17 minutes, honoring the 17 lives lost in the Parkland shooting. While the turnout was small, the message was still large. Going around the group, individuals stated their name and reasoning for attending, with everyone in agreement that action must be taken to improve the wellbeing of the country.
Second-year student Amy Wheeler shared her opinion amongst the gathered grouping, “I feel that it is important to take a stand against gun violence because nothing will change unless people get up and do something. It’s apparent that our country needs change, gun violence has taken too many lives and it needs to stop.”
Across the country, school shooting prevention has been the topic of conversation, yet change has still only come in small doses. Changes on COCC’s campus, however, have been small. Following the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, COCC’s door locks were changed to lock from the inside, a small preventative step in the overall goal of school safety.
Noting that COCC has fallen somewhat short in their action, or lack of, in midst of the nation controversy, Wheeler stated, “I definitely feel that COCC has not done enough about this topic. The only thing that was posted or available on campus were the posters that Anthony created and distributed personally. Even though they were approved by the school, COCC did not have any statements about walkouts or any discussions about school gun violence.”
In addition, Wheeler offered ideas on how COCC could potentially improve their safety procedures, suggesting that shooter drills be implemented on campus. “The professors are trained with the run, hide, fight idea, but I feel that students should be equipped with knowledge of what to do as well.”
Continuing the momentum from the walk-out, high school students from Bend High School organized “March For Our Lives,” a community event at Drake Park on March 24 at 11:30 a.m.. Part of a national movement, survivors and families of those affected by the Parkland shooting will march through the streets of Washington D.C. and across the nation, in hopes that lawmakers and those with political power will hear their voices and take action.
According to the March For Our Lives website, “March For Our Lives is created by, inspired by, and led by students across the country who will no longer risk their lives waiting for someone else to take action to stop the epidemic of mass school shootings that has become all too familiar.”
Continuing the discussion of gun violence, on April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting, another walk-out on campus and across the country will be held. “It’ll be held to commemorate those lives that were lost, and just strive to prevent further shootings from happening,” Lanuza said.
As the topic of prevention prevails, marches and protests across the country will continue on as well. ■