High school students across the country will be walking out of their classrooms and schools at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 14, to show Congress they want gun control legislation passed.
The national walkout was spurred by the actions of the student survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting — which left 17 people dead. The shooter used an AR-15, which has been used in mass shootings such as Sandy Hook, Aurora and Orlando, and students are using their voices and actions to “protest Congress’ inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence”, according to the National Walkout’s Facebook event page.
Students at Damonte Ranch High School and Reno High School have both created Facebook events for the walkout, and encourage students to participate despite the Washoe County School District’s policy that students who do will be marked tardy or absent, and will not be excused.
“This walkout will last 17 minutes, one minute for each of the victims of the Florida shooting,” says the Damonte Ranch event page. “Meet in front of the school entrance by the stairs and PEACEFULLY protest.”
In a statement released on Feb. 23, WCSD encouraged schools and student leaders to find another way to stand in solidarity with the Parkland victims.
“[…] our first priority is educating our students,” said the WCSD statement. “Student Leadership clubs and classes could develop ideas such as tying ribbons on school fences or observing moments of silence.”
WCSD also recognized the importance of civic engagement and asked if students do walk out, they do so peacefully without disrupting the “educational setting”.
The Clark County School District — whose jurisdiction is the greater Las Vegas area — was stricter about punishments for students who choose to participate after 75 students from Silverado High School walked out of classes on Feb. 21.
“If a student chooses to walk out they will be ineligible to participate in any athletics or extracurricular activities [for that day],” said Rosanne Richards, a CCSD official in a message to school principals. “Additionally, principals may choose to collaborate with student club/activity advisers and coaches to potentially thwart a walkout on your campus. It is so important during these times that we talk with our students about how a walkout is not necessary and that we are all working together to optimize school safety.”
The message received backlash on social media, and many Twitter users encouraged students to participate in the walkout despite threatened punishments.
“ccsd students! do it anyway” tweeted @KeenaStayFly. The tweet was retweeted over a thousand times and liked by more than 2,000 users.
Students from the University of Nevada, Reno, and incoming students will not be punished if they decide to partake in the walkout on March 14, according to a statement released by President Marc Johnson.
“The University of Nevada, Reno has long stressed a model of civic and community engagement for our students,” said the statement. “We firmly believe that students who work to make a difference in the civic life of our communities develop knowledge, skills and values that will serve them well throughout their lives, and will help them become more engaged and productive citizens. We support our current and future students’ active participation in our democracy. We acknowledge their right to stand up in the expression of their beliefs.”
Johnson also expressed these sentiments on Twitter.
For more information about the National Walkout, visit the event page on Facebook.
Madeline Purdue can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @madelinepurdue.