On March 14, the University community came together at the university’s iconic Ellipse landmark to participate in a nationwide school walkout. Students, faculty, administrators and members of the surrounding community all joined the student-organized demonstration.
Simon Brooks and Madeline Ochabillio, both freshmen, started a Facebook event calling for action to be taken after the deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stomeman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. The nationwide walk out’s mission was to demonstrate solidarity with those in Parkland, but also to unify the voices all over the nation who are “saying no” to gun violence at schools.
The University’s walkout featured speeches, poems and stories from faculty and students. Some shared how they have been affected by gun violence injuring or killing someone close to them, some students voiced their concern over the growing terror on campuses around the nation- recounting a school shooter scare several years ago at the University, and others spoke of the need for gun control and reform, urging the audience to get involved and vote in upcoming elections.
As the speeches went on, faculty members passed out small orange ribbons for participants to pin onto their coats—orange being the color of National Gun Violence Awareness Day promoted by the national organization Everytown for Gun Safety.
Preceding the national walkout, the University sent out an email ensuring that enrolled students who participated in the walkout would not be penalized or marked absent in classes. In addition to this, the University stated that the acceptance of any incoming students would not be changed or rescinded if they participated in the walkout and faced disciplinary action at their high schools.
This nationwide walk out was the “first major coordinated action of the student-led movement for gun control,” according to New York Times. Young people commanded the news and virtually every social media platform during this walk out.
The symbolism of young people the same age and even younger being killed by school shooters was evident due to signs displaying the slogan, “This is our future” and “We are the future.”
At the University, a circle of students and faculty surrounded the crowd. Some members of the circle held up various Villanova T-shirts while others carried signs. The signs included slogans such as: “Are we next?” and “That could have been us.”