To show support for victims of the Parkland shooting and their opposition to gun violence, students at the University of Nevada, Reno, sat in silence during a walkout on Wednesday, March 14.
At noon, nearly 100 students and faculty members took to the steps of the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center to partake in 17 minutes of silence in solidarity with the National Walkout. This was just one walk out of thousands nationwide in support of the victims. High Schools, middle schools and universities across the nation spent 17 minutes in silence throughout the day.
The walkout occurred exactly one month after a mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, where 17 students and faculty members of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High were killed. Each minute spent in silence was to remember each of the victims. To make a greater statement, participants also held photos of each of the Parkland shooting victims for the duration of the walkout.
After the 17 minutes came to an end, director of The Center, Araceli Martinez, rose and thanked participants for coming out and showing their support.
Before participants dismantled, student Dwight Cabanilla called for a group hug.
“We just need to spread the love as much as possible,” Cabanilla said.
Sandra Rodriguez, director of the Center for Student Engagement and organizer of the walkout, feels it was her moral duty to show some type of greater support for the victims of these tragic shootings. According to her, it is not acceptable to sit and watch these things happen without taking action.
“Every citizen has a responsibility to engage,” Rodriguez said. “We can walk down the street and pick up trash off the sidewalk when we see it and while that may fix that issue, when things happen on a national level we can no longer afford to sit on the couch.”
Rodriguez also feels that planning this event would encourage students to be active members of society, rather than bystanders.
“I believe it is my responsibility as the director of the Center for Student Engagement to show students what it means to be an active participant and how you can make a statement in your own way,” Rodriguez said. “I think today was a great example of how we can take time out of our day to help others in whatever ways we can.”
The turnout was extremely unexpected to the organizers as well.
“Considering we only planned this on Monday afternoon, I think the turnout was fantastic,” Rodriguez said.
Martinez and Rodriguez also said that by planning this event at the university, they were hoping to extend and show their support to K-12 students as well that may have been affected by the tragic events.
“I want the symbol clear to the high school students in Northern Nevada, the rest of Nevada, and the rest of the nation that the rest of the community is thinking of them,” Rodriguez said.
Martinez agrees with Rodriguez and wanted to help K-12 students.
“It’s important to me that all kids feel safe, and I can show both these younger and older kids that they have our support, then I am absolutely going to make that happen,” Martinez said.
Olivia Ali can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.