Priscilla Hopper media manager
Just days after the shooting at Marjory Stonemason Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14, actions to protest gun violence became a national norm. Wednesday, March 14, marks the National School Walkout. It is to take place at 10 a.m. in every time zone, and is to encourage students, teachers and supporters to leave wherever they are for 17 minutes to honor the 17 victims of this horrific crime. The #NationalSchoolWalkout aims to protest the lack of substantial action by Congress and to practice American students’ First Amendment rights.
However, March 14 coincidentally lies on Career Day, a day when experts in their respective professions come to BHHS to speak about their occupation. In response to this overlap, administration has embedded the dedicated 17 minutes into the schedule on Career Day; however, this does not necessarily encourage students or allies to voice their mind by walking out. Instead, it diminishes the overall impact BHHS students could be making.Since this walkout could qualify as a temporary work strike, it should solely be those who support the cause protesting what they believe in rather than it being added to their schedule like a free period or school activity.
After countless tragedies struck America, citizens have grown angered with the influx of “prayers and condolences” or “thoughts and prayers,” and the decline in productive reform to combat the injustices of gun violence in our country. Hundreds of walkouts are scheduled all around the country in solidarity for the lives lost to gun violence, including schools in the United Kingdom and the Middle East. Activities like those on Career Day do not interfere with that, nor should it be an excuse for administration or the city to create an event out of it to try to convince the student body, parents, teachers or allies that they care too.
While adding the walk out to the schedule on Career Day is a constructive idea, it is disheartening to see administration cheapen its value. Administration should steer away from forcing the time into the schedule and instead allow students to walk out on their own. The walk out is to signify the hope for execution of these wrongdoings in our country, not to commercialize a school sponsored event. It is genuinely meant to be a physical representation of how people feel, not an opportunity for any school, not just BHHS, to take advantage of how they mourn.
Those wishing to get involved with the walkout should be allowed to stop what they are doing, get up and simply walk out, not have to abide by a schedule that, now, the entire student body will be involved in. While ample support is not something to complain about, many students are almost being forced to partake in the protest.
The accommodation being made for these students is to prevent the participating student body from offending the guest speakers; however, including the walkout time into the schedule of Career Day simply subtracts from the value and meaning of the protest. While no administrator or student foresaw the Parkland shooting, nor the walkout, they made an effort to compromise, simply adding a balance of respect for our community leaders and speakers, as well as students wishing to participate.
The March 14 walkout is not to disregard the volunteers at Career Day, it is to send a message to the world saying “ENOUGH.” I encourage the students and allies to walk out at 10 a.m., not because administration gave you the extra time, but in honor of all victims of mass shootings.