Student walkout protests gun violence, promotes unity within student body

Maggie Ballard and Video Staff

Enough Is Enough. Protect Kids, Not Guns. It’s Time For Change. These were just a few of the signs that were held high on campus on March 23.

On March 14, students all over the U.S. staged walkouts against gun violence. Though St. John’s students were on spring break and could not participate in National Walkout Day, the members of the Young Political Organization board felt this did not mean their walkout would be less effective.

Junior Sophie Gillard, a Young Liberals Organization chair, explained that the walkout aimed to accomplish three major points: measures against gun violence, solidarity with the Stoneman Douglas students and unity within the student body.

After the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, YLO began planning to join the national movement. The students decided to make it a YPO event after Young Conservatives Club reached out and asked if YLO would be interested in walking out with YCC.

“For us on YLO, it was pretty clear we needed to join in, and if we couldn’t walkout, we could at least hold a meeting to discuss gun violence and what we can do in our state,” Gillard said. “To have YCC reach out was incredible.”

Sophomore Olivia Grobmyer chose to participate in the walkout to make a statement about the current state of gun control in the U.S.

“It’s really important that students voice their opinion,” Grobmyer said. “The fact that kids’ lives aren’t enough to cause gun reform is atrocious.”

After leaving their advisories and meeting on the Great Lawn at 11:05, students marched one lap around campus before finally returning to the Great Lawn. Many students marched with signs that had been created at a YPO sign-making meeting the day before, while others marched with signs they had made themselves.

At the end of the march, senior YCC chair Henry Philpott and senior YLO representative Katie Smith each gave a short speech about what the march means to them as well as the national impact of the Parkland students, which was followed by a moment of silence as the names of the victims of the Stoneman Douglas shooting were read aloud.

“It is time we put our political beliefs aside and realize the destruction these shootings are having on everyone,” Philpott said. “We can put aside our differences and work together to change current gun laws.”