Muhlenberg Students Walk Out of Class in Support of Gun Reform

At exactly 12 pm on Wednesday, February 21st, Muhlenberg students and faculty marched out of their classrooms and down the lawn towards Victor’s Lament to protest the nation’s normalization of gun violence, in honor of the 17 victims who lost their lives in the Parkland High School shooting just last week. It was the biggest turnout of this sort of event the school has ever seen, with hundreds gathered in a large circle spanning the entire main lawn. Some brought signs, some brought friends, and some just brought themselves. One thing was clear though: everyone was gathered for the same reason and this was to continue the dialogue and to bring about change for the betterment of our schools, our communities, and our nation as a whole.

Though I had no classes to walk out of, I still wanted to join in and take part in the demonstration. It never occurred to me how big of a deal this was to my school, and how many people would take part. While Muhlenberg is generally a liberal school, and most of us can agree on gun reform, I didn’t even imagine the enormity of this event. It was truly empowering to see how many people wanted to take action and wanted to see something change for the better. 

We started off in a large circle, but then broke into smaller groups to discuss our feelings, share personal stories, and talk about what to do next. At first, nobody in my group seemed to want to speak. People may have felt afraid to speak up, possibly in fear that their ideas may be trivialized or brushed aside. But soon, one person spoke, and suddenly so many people felt compelled to share. I myself felt compelled to tell my story, to speak about the tragedies of gun violence within my community back home. While everybody may not have had a personal story to share, like I did, we all were connected by this common fear, and this common hope that things can and will get better.

At 12:17 pm, we held a moment of silence for the victims of the shooting, and we all held hands to strengthen the feeling of community and solidarity. It was an emotional moment. After the moment of silence, we continued about the day as usual, but a bit more somber than before. Many strangers and friends alike hugged me, and thanked me for sharing my story. I felt a wave of joy wash over me, because I knew this community, my community was truly there to support everybody affected by fear, sadness, and tragedy. I also felt hopeful for the future; before this, I had felt as though we as a nation could never break this vicious cycle. It gave me the courage to face the rest of my day and to continue to fight for what I believe is right. 

Muhlenberg’s demonstration was not the only one that took place yesterday. Thousands of high schools and college campuses all over the country walked out like we did, and made sure their voices were heard. To those who walked, and to those who didn’t because they were unable or afraid, you are so brilliant and brave, and I am so proud of you all. We may be young, but that doesn’t mean we cannot comprehend what is happening in our world, that we cannot have a say when it comes to making sure we do not live in fear. Keep fighting the good fight, and do not let this die down. 

Change isn’t coming. It’s here.

Thank you to Caroline Kinney for the pictures used in this article.