17 Minutes For 17 Dead

Marymount Manhattan College students walked out of class in protest of gun laws and in honor of the 17 individuals who were killed in the Parkland shooting. The protest happened nationwide with elementary schools through colleges and universities. The student walk out took place at 10 am this morning and lasted for 17 minutes, one minute for every person who was killed in the Parkland shooting.

As students walked out of Marymount Manhattan College, flooding the sidewalk of 71st street between 2nd and 3rd avenue, the President and Vice President of student government begin speaking over a megaphone. Stella Raffle-Wax, the student body Vice President, welcomes everyone and begins to give her speech. She said, “the NRA believes that assault rifles have more rights than the students of this nation and we are here to tell them that our lives are important and are more important than guns.”

She went on to tell fellow students to be bold and to “stand up and fight back... I am absolutely finished with older generations who believe I should stop being bold.” She leaded students in chanting “stand up fight back!” and “enough is enough!” She then continued her speech saying, “Enough is enough! Enough money in the hands of the NRA who believe that there right to own a full auto assault weapon is greater than our right to live and to see our graduation. Is greater than the lives of 17 people in Parkland Florida. Is greater than the lives of young kids in Sandy Hook Connecticut. Is greater than the lives of peaceful protestors like us and Penn State University.”

Stella explained that she studies politics at the college and that we as students need to get involved in politics to make a change, “I know that being politically involved is not a choice I can simply ignore or turn off.” Throughout the protest students are encouraged to vote and to actively fight for what they believe in. Stella explained to students where they can go to register to vote in New York and what they can do to make a difference before she handed the megaphone over to the student body president, Alexis Garcia.

Alexis read off the names of all 17 individuals whose lives were taken from them on February 14th in Parkland, Florida. After the names are read there is no applause from the students— silence. 

Different members of the protest came forward to speak on the megaphone. One of the speakers was the President of the college, Kerry Walk. President Walk is proud to stand with the student body in protest, "We as educators of this generation are fond of saying that you are our future. But I think the message of today is that you are our now.”

She goes on to say, “We need to say no to gun violence. We need to say no to discrimination of all kinds. And you are here today making that statement. We are with you. Marymount Manhattan College is with you.”

Other students take a stand sharing their own stories over the megaphone. One student spoke while struggling to hold back tears; she explains that a close friend of hers goes to Parkland High School and he was there the day of the tragic shooting. Another student explains that she received a pistol as a birthday gift when she was 8 years old. She says, “This haunts me in my dreams.” Students are constantly reminded after each speaker how important it is to vote and to continuously stand up and fight back.

The walk out lasted for 17 minutes. It was 17 minutes of impassioned students showing the world that they are standing up and fighting back. They are not backing down— enough is enough.