On Wednesday Mar. 14, I sat in class as seven of my classmates walked out of the building. As a school, West organizers aimed to keep our walkout as a bipartisan, all-inclusive event, which I applaud them for, but I still felt that walking out wasn’t the best choice for me.
My peers and myself have been asked why we refused to partake, even though it was a bipartisan event. Personally, before I agree to partake in any activity, political or not, there are three questions I ask myself:
The first question is ‘why am I doing it?’
As provided by the organizers, the answer would be to open up a conversation for school safety. I feel that this mindset is a very good one to have. But, after hearing more from peers, I feel that the meaning as explained by the organizers, was not explained to students well. I understand this is because of the limited resources the group was allowed to use when advertising, but the facts remain the same.
Secondly, ‘What do I want out of it?’
I personally did not have an answer to this and after asking two of the student organizers, I still lacked an answer. I was told that the walkout had no agenda on ideas that could help future events, like school shootings, from occurring. The lack of demands for a systematic change in legislation is both a benefit and a con of the walkout.
As a benefit, more discussion can be had that can bring a bipartisan change, such as stricter procedures with minimal infringement on the second amendment. On the con side, without an individual platform, the walkout allowed itself to be subject to the interpretation of whomever decided to interpret it. For example, after many walkouts happened over the state, legislators may start a plan of action, but the lack of a constituent consensus could lead to unpopular legislation presented by congress.This leads into the answer to my final question.
Finally, ‘how am I going to be perceived?’
Perception often has a lot to do with legislation, as I previously touched on. Across the country, there were 3,000 high school walkouts that took place on Mar. 14. The main theme of these walkouts was gun control, and not general school safety. Whether West students intended the walkout to be about gun control or not, the walkout was already affiliated with the national movement for gun control. The media is not asking what every school’s goal was in their walkout, they are looking at the overall narrative across the country and even state.
On the day of the walkout, I saw videos and pictures of our walkout and a walkout from my hometown where they had signs asking for more gun control. Although I personally may see the difference, national news stations cannot see the different reasons for walking out from all of the schools that participated in the walk out on the same day.
Whether West meant to or not, we aligned ourselves on a national level with a movement of gun control.
It is your right as a citizen of America to fight for your beliefs, but I along with my peers were not willing to align ourselves with this movement where our beliefs were not being accurately portrayed.
That being said, I applaud everyone who made a stance for their beliefs whether it was by walking out or remaining in class.