Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

The importance of students in the March for Our Lives

Students lead the way in gun reform
(Caroline O’Connor/Daily Collegian)

On Saturday, March 24, I marched in Northampton in support of the March for Our Lives Initiative, founded by the students of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, spurred in the wake of the shooting on Valentine’s Day that left 17 of their classmates and teachers dead and over a dozen others wounded. Their goal is simple: to end school shootings.

The movement remains strong because it is led by the students. As they make the call for change, these brave young people are turning their grief into power. Their tenacity triggers camaraderie among our country and makes the possibility of change seem achievable. The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have started a national movement, proving that people are sick of hearing about children being slain in school. An estimated 200,000 people marched in Washington D.C. , and there were an estimated 800 marches across the country. They created a movement that inspired other students—Northampton’s rally, too, was run by students.

Outside Northampton High School, the students began the march by making logistical announcements and shouting rallying cries. A high school student and former intern of Northampton’s congressional district representative, Jim McGovern, who was not present due to marching in D.C., read a message on his behalf. McGovern’s note called for gun reform legislation and for politicians to stand opposed to the National Rifle Association. The student was affirmative in her delivery and she left the audience—myself included—with chills. She proved, once again, that these young students are serious about change.

As we walked down the hill past Smith and toward City Hall, I noticed how massive the size of the crowd was. At least 2,000 people were marching in unison; others were cheering on in support. In the center of town, the street was packed from the block before City Hall all the way up past The Academy of Music. As time passed, more students took to the steps of City Hall to show their commitment to the issue, playing music and delivering speeches. On-lookers noted that this was the largest march they’ve ever seen in Northampton.

The student leadership of the March for Our Lives Initiative is incredibly powerful because it is their lives on the line. Mass-school shootings have become all too common in the United States and those who are most vulnerable are now saying ‘Enough is Enough.’ The student voice is crucial to this movement, so much so that the Washington rally featured almost exclusively student speakers.

The decision to present student speakers is especially relevant, as the NRA, who stand shamefully in opposition to gun reform, have argued that movements such as the March for Our Lives Initiative are orchestrated by “gun-hating billionaires and Hollywood elites” to push an anti-gun agenda.

While celebrities showed up yesterday to support—Kim and Kanye walked with daughter North in DC, Paul McCartney walked in New York, citing the death of John Lennon as a reason that he’s so passionate about the issue of gun violence, as well as Broadway icons Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ben Platt performing remixed songs from their respective musicals, an ode to the students’ cause and collective action—it is the students calling for their safety at school in the heart of this movement. They’re after real change, not a mere moment in the spotlight.

The NRA wants people to believe that these students want to disarm the United States. But the students want to end a culture in which a child can be murdered in school.

The high school students of the March for Our Lives Initiative are not to be underestimated. In Northampton, I saw brave young people stand before a crowded audience and call for change, voices occasionally shaking, but firm in their delivery. In Washington, we saw students make impressive, iconic, truthful speeches. Emma Gonzalez held a moment of silence for six minutes and 20 seconds—the same length of time as the shooting at her school—seizing a painful moment and translating it into one of political action. With resolve and humility, Sam Funetes vomited on stage and kept going. If change will come—and it has to—it will be because of these students, and our support of them, taking an active role in their government and their lives.

Claire Wixted is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected].

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    Ed Cutting, Ed.D.Mar 28, 2018 at 4:56 pm

    You are TEN TIMES more likely to be ht by lightning than to be shot in school.

    This is a hysteria — not unlike the witch hunts of yore — and you ought to look at what really is killing kids — cars… Now do we go to a 21-year-old driving age? It would save a LOT more lives than a total (quite unconstitutionsl) gun ban could — and driving is a privilege. Gun ownership is a right.

    Never forget that the Klan liked to march in the 1930’s — they marched through DC as well.
    This is quite simple, it just is targeting a different group of people.

    • N

      NITZAKHONApr 6, 2018 at 9:17 am

      Ironically, the KKK was founded by a Democrat, and a lot of early gun control was done to disarm blacks (who were overwhelmingly Republican) so they couldn’t defend themselves against the thug arm of the “Democratic” party.

  • N

    NITZAKHONMar 28, 2018 at 10:08 am

    “The NRA wants people to believe that these students want to disarm the United States. But the students want to end a culture in which a child can be murdered in school.”

    Given that they, and many others, are openly saying exactly that – to repeal the Second Amendment and confiscate all private weapons – your honeyed assurances to the contrary fall on deaf ears.

    We don’t believe you.