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In light of the high school shooting in Parkland FL, that took the lives of 17 students Pacific University students, faculty and staff joined over 3000 schools in the national March for Our Lives Walkout on March 14.
The sun came out as students and faculty came together at the University Center Patio 10 AM to stand against gun violence in schools. Students held signs that said “Stop the violence,” “Listen to the Survivors,” and “#Never Again.” All who attended shared in a moment of silence after listening to the speakers.
Chaplain Chuck Currie, the director for the Center for Peace and Spirituality, spoke adamantly against gun violence.
“This is not rocket science this debate that we’re having today,” he said. “This is a political issue; it is a moral issue, but you can make a difference.”
Jay Cee Whitehead, a professor of sociology, also spoke. “You’re younger cohorts are saying enough is enough,” she said.
Currie received a loud applause from the students when he said “We need to ban assault weapons in this country.”
A student, Heather Gardner, later commented, “Gun violence has been a problem my whole life.” Gardner recalls growing up in a neighborhood where gun violence was a big issue. She did not attend her local high school because of its rate of gun threats. Gardner was sad that the walkout was not more insistent on change. She was happy that Currie was brave enough to speak out for gun control.
An article in the Oregonian featured Pacific University student Sophia O’Neal talking about the March of Our Lives.
“I am sick and tired of seeing my generation be killed by senseless and preventable gun violence,” O’Neal said. “I want my generation to survive and today I am demanding action be taken to let us live.”
Those who attended the walkout could sign their names and write on a banner. The Student Senate will send the banner to Salem to express concerns of gun violence to the state’s representatives.
The Student Senate continued the discussion on gun violence with a forum that will take place April 10, in the University Center. It was an open forum with a panel to discuss the different sides of the gun debate.
Campus Public Safety was there for anyone who had questions about what to do when there is an armed threat on campus. Members of the Counseling Center were there to answer questions on how to identify behaviors of a person who may become a threat. College Democrats signed students and faculty up to vote.
The National School Walk Out was organized by the Women’s March with the message #Enough. It was one of many protests nationwide. The students of Parkland, FL, led a march on Washington D.C. later that month.
“All across the country there are students just like you,” Currie said. “Our members of congress are all paying attention to you today.”
The walkout was led by the Undergraduate Student Senate and supported by the Pacific University administration. Katie Lightcap, president of the Pacific University Undergraduate Student Senate, says the walkout is to remember the lives that were taken by gun violence, and start a conversation.
Lightcap takes a more neutral stance on the issue in an attempt to unite the university despite their political beliefs about the controversial gun debate.
“It’s definitely not [about] gun control,” Lightcap said. “We’re not trying to take your guns away. We want it to be like a time to remember lives that have been taken.”
Steve Klein, director of the University Center and Student Activities, agrees with Lightcap.
“We’re trying not to be Democrats, Republicans, pro-gun, anti-gun. We’re trying to be [a] community,” said Klein.