By Zainab Iqbal
Published: March 21st, 2018
At exactly 10 a.m. on March 14, dozens of students and staff walked out to the middle of the East Quad to show their support for the Parkland, Florida gun violence victims and to chant for gun control, joining thousands of others around the country. The walkout lasted exactly 17 minutes, with each minute representing one of the 17 total casualties of the shooting.
“We’re here because thoughts and prayers have run their course,” co-organizer Chris McCreary, a Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) student, said.
There was another crowd gathered in front of James Hall in the West Quad as well, where there were many students from the Brooklyn College Academy. They were holding posters with powerful words, including, “Am I Next?” They stood in silence to respect those who had died from gun violence.
Across the street on the East Quad, McCreary spoke about the importance of gun control and then recited the name of each victim that was shot to death at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. After he said each name, the passionate crowd shouted, “Not one more!”
According to Emily Edwards, co-organizer of the BC walkout and a first-year MFA student, gun control is essential to this country. She had reached out to her classmates and professors to see if they would be interested in taking part in the nationwide walkout. Everyone, including McCreary, was in. She began looking for the official event at BC, but could find none.
“That meant it was up to me and Chris to make it happen ourselves. Because it needs to happen,” she told the Excelsior.
“The students from Parkland have re-energized the gun control debate in an exciting way that hopefully will lead to change,” she said. “I wanted to make sure this momentum continued.”
She believes that in order for any sort of gun reform to take place, representatives that “are not in the pocket of the National Rifle Association (NRA)” need to be elected.
“The NRA has the country in a chokehold and until we diminish their influence, nothing will change,” she said.
The NRA recently sued Florida for raising the age of gun purchases from 18 to 21. According to Edwards, this “is a piece of common sense legislation, but the NRA will do everything it can to prevent anything that messes with their ability to sell guns.”
But even that is not enough, she said. She believes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) needs to be able to collect data on gun-related deaths to check for any trends that can prevent mass shootings.
“What this all boils down to is that we need to vote in November for candidates who aren’t pro-NRA,” she said.
Edwards wanted the students to feel hope during the walkout—and that is why she felt it was her responsibility to organize it.
“I want the students to walk out energized with hope from standing alongside their fellow classmates and professors and realizing there are so many who think like they do. Who believe that these tragedies are preventable. And that working together, we can make a difference,” she said. “I want them to be inspired to take action on their own, whether that is calling their representatives, attending other rallies, or registering to vote.”
Students in over 200 schools across the nation took part in the walkout. Edwards believes that that very statistic should empower the Brooklyn College community.
“It means the students of BC can feel good about taking part in something that affects our country and know that people in every part are doing the same thing.”