In a statement released on Feb. 24, President Nathan O. Hatch expressed support of high school students who choose to protest gun violence following the Parkland shooting that occured on Feb. 14.
The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the site of the shooting which left 17 students and faculty dead, began speaking out against gun violence and the fact that school shootings have become all too common in the current American society.
As a response to the shooting, advocacy groups and students have organized multiple protests, in the forms of walkouts and marches.
“It is our great hope that we can restore the spirit of open dialogue and conversation about those issues that matter deeply to all our citizens,” Hatch said in his statement.
EMPOWER, a group created through an initiative by the Women’s March Youth group, has planned a nationwide school walkout for March 14, exactly one month after the Parkland shooting. At 10 a.m. in every timezone across the country, students, teachers, administrators, parents and allies will walkout for 17 minutes — one minute for each person killed as a result of the shooting.
On March 24, the March For Our Lives, organized by students, will take place in Washington, D.C. in the sustained effort to call on Congress to take action on passing stricter control laws and promoting school safety.
“Students across the country will no longer risk their lives waiting for someone else to take action to stop the epidemic of mass school shootings that has become all too familiar. In the tragic wake of the seventeen lives brutally cut short in Florida, politicians are telling us that now is not the time to talk about guns,” the March for Our Lives website says. “March For Our Lives believes the time is now.”
In solidarity with the Washington, D.C. March For Our Lives, other marches will occur on March 24 in other cities across the country.
Lastly, a movement called #NationalSchoolWalkout has been gaining traction on Twitter and on a Change.org petition, which as of 2 p.m. on Feb. 28 has 231,750 signatures. The plan, created by student Lane Murdock, who lives near Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, is for students to walk out of school on April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting, and to not return until Congress passes stricter gun control laws.
Many high schools have announced punishments in attempts to discourage their students from participating in such protests and walkouts. According to Buzzfeed News, for example, a Houston school district has threatened students with three-day, out-of-school suspensions. Another Houston school has also threatened students with an in-school suspension.
In response, many colleges have promised that punishments resulting from a student protesting will not affect a student’s admission. This list includes Harvard, Yale, Davidson, William & Mary and Duke. Wake Forest joins over 200 colleges in this promise.
“Your actions will have no adverse effect on your application to our University,” Hatch said in his statement.
For Hatch, prospective students who may choose to protest the violence understand “Pro Humanitate” and the liberal arts spirits of Wake Forest.
“We believe in your passion, your resolve, and your willingness to engage in thoughtful conversation,” Hatch said. “At the heart of a Wake Forest education is the ability to tackle our society’s most complex problems, together as one community committed to a common good.”