By Monica Kunovszky
Friday, March 2 at Central Michigan University, a student shot his parents. This is not the first gun violence story that has made national headlines. Two weeks prior, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, had a gruesome school massacre that killed 17 individuals and injured 16 more.
These past tragedies have struck chords with students on Alma College’s campus, creating a host of individuals to spring into action.
This week on Wednesday, there will be a walkout, a total of 17 minutes of remembrance. This event will take place in Mac Mall, and will be followed up the next week by a March for Our Lives. Both of these events are national, but being spearheaded here by students who want to bring more awareness to campus. One of the clubs sponsoring these events is the Alma College Action.
Member of ACA, Sydney Bossidis (‘20) explains more of these two national events.
“Both of these events will be going on across the country at these times. The walk out is a way for students to voice their stance on the issue, that they want Congress to actually take action now rather than send thoughts and prayers. The march is also to voice for an end to gun violence and mass shootings within schools.”
President of ACA, Madison Amlotte (‘20) also weighs in.
“A lot of students are at a place of sorrow, fear and frustration. This isn’t the first school shooting and it’s still happening. Even non-activist individuals want to do something and we (ACA) wanted to provide the space where people can make a change and feel like they’re being active.
“We want to make sure nothing like this ever happens again and that we are showing solidarity to victims of the past shootings, as well as showing the commitment that Alma College has.”
ACA Advisor Dr. Laura Woolbright of the communication department says that these forms of protests are very important for Alma’s campus.
“One of the most appalling things is the huge disconnect of what people want to see and what politicians want to do. Only power outside of elections and voting is protest and showing up. It almost seems though that there is backlash from politicians to this protesting going on but we have got to keep trying.”
CMU’s shooting also stirs up discomfort because of its close proximity to Alma’s campus. Although not a school shooting but a domestic dispute Woolbright says this is still an important event that we can take notes from.
“[the] Fact that this person was still able to get the weapon to take lives still matters, even if it’s not a typical school shooting. Although it happened on a campus, it was a domestic dispute. This brings it closer to home for us.”
Amlotte also comments, “CMU is not your standard school shooting. This is important because it doesn’t change the fear. Alma students were still getting messages from friends and family asking if they were safe, even though they weren’t directly on CMU’s campus.”
Gun violence is a divisive concept as well, that can cause varying opinions. Bossidis advises individuals to keep an open mind.
“As general advice for disagreeing, I think people should look at both sides of the issue and see what the problem is. People don’t need to agree on every point but it is important to understand the other person and see if there is a compromise to work towards a solution that is better for everyone.”
Overall with these two upcoming events the members of ACA hope that individuals take away important lessons.
“I hope that the takeaway is that anyone who attends either event will learn more about the issue and spread more educated awareness about it. I hope people will also consider the impact of this issue. We can always hope for change and compromise but to get there it will not be easy but I do believe, and truly hope, it is possible,” Bossidis said.
Woolbright adds, “Gun laws are stupid and need to be changed.”
College administration is also combatting students’ safety concerns by reforming and improving safety plans. The Student Congress meeting on Mar. 5 held discussion about the improvements, and Dr. Karl Rishe spoke on behalf of the college safety committee. Alice training will begin on campus, and ideas regarding panic buttons, blue lights, security and changed locks are being discussed.
ACA is planning more events for the rest of the semester. Amlotte says, “keeping his energy going is important, and that’s why these events are important.”