Following the National Walkout for Gun Violence on March 14 at the Capitol, students have raised the question: are walkouts worth the consequences of missing school?
The main argument made by students who participated in the protest was the rare experience that the walkout offers students. Bella Young, a sophomore at GDS, said that “It gives an opportunity for students to feel like they are a part of something bigger…the walkout makes students do more for what they have. It’s really empowering seeing all the students around you; no teachers, no parents.” As many keynote speakers at the 2019 National Walkout for Gun Violence pointed out, students are not protesting because they want to be; they are here because they have to be.
The school week is jam-packed with many major assignments, especially those last few weeks before spring break. Many students could not participate in the walkout simply because of the major assignments they had that school day.
Young said, “I will admit I didn’t have a lot of tests that day so I could afford to miss school. However, moving forward, if I did have a lot of major assignments that day, I would reschedule them for this.” A student deciding whether to walkout must consider how much of a priority the walkouts are for the individual and what their views are. Missing school, especially at an academically rigorous institution like GDS, can have damaging repercussions and require lots of makeup work. Is it worth it for a student to miss school? A fear of missing out on class was what drove many GDS students to decide not to attend the walkout.
On the other hand, some members of the community do not believe in specific components of the protest. For example, some question whether or not students actually go to the walkout, or if they go home and use the walkout as an excuse to miss school. Sophomore Jeremy Margolis said, “A bunch of GDS kids just miss school and say they are a part of the walkout, but they’re not. They just want to miss school.”
Another student, sophomore Jeremy Jensen, opposes the timing of the walkout. He said, “have it on a Saturday; don’t miss school!” However, having the protest on a school day and leaving class could give the cause even more power. Why put yourself in an environment that is not safe? We are not safe until gun control legislation is passed.
The future is in our generation’s hands. The National Walkout brings thousands of students together, uniting around one cause. Gun control needs to become a more significant priority for the government, but unfortunately, it is not today. However, through protesting and policies, gun violence will be minimized. The National Walkout is a powerful movement, but it is your decision whether or not it is a cause you would miss school for.
Tia Piziali ’21 and Genevieve Johnston ’21