Yalies joined hundreds of thousands of activists and students advocating for gun control reform at March for Our Lives events across the country on Saturday.
The nationwide movement comes in the wake of a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14 that killed 17 students. The shooting — the latest in a string of mass school shootings this year — inspired survivors to begin the #NeverAgain movement, the leaders of which helped plan the nationwide marches.
“The energy was amazing,” said Katherine Hu ’21, a staff columnist for the News who marched in Boston. “The feeling was of anger but also of community at the same time. These people are all here in solidarity with you.”
For many Yale students interviewed by the News, the March for Our Lives events marked their first participation in a large scale protest.
Noah Shapiro ’21 said that, while he has long been a vocal advocate of gun control, the event on Saturday in New York City was the first time he was “marching for a change.” And Talia Morison-Allen ’21, who also supports stronger gun control and attended the February vigil on campus honoring victims of gun violence, described last weekend’s march in Washington, D.C. as a “historic moment.”
The marches and rallies featured speeches by survivors of gun violence, including Parkland students, and by activists like Naomi Wadler, who drew attention to the gun violence facing black women and girls during the D.C. rally.
Morison-Allen praised those leading the marches for acknowledging the privilege of some activists and also elevating the voices of people who have been advocating for gun control reform for years.
“It was overwhelming to see how prevalent gun violence is in the US,” she said.
The students expressed hope that the momentum of the marches will carry forward into legislative reform.
“I’ve been happy to see that there are so many people who care,” said Carrie Mannino ’20, a News editor, who attended the march in Pittsburgh and also organized the vigil on campus honoring gun violence victims. “The vibe going forward is focusing on education and educating students as voters and how they can make a difference on laws.”
Since the #NeverAgain movement has been pioneered by high school students, the majority of whom are unable to vote, Mannino said, it is crucial that college students continue to support their younger peers.
On Monday evening, Dwight Hall released a statement on gun violence, saying the organization stands “in solidarity with survivors of gun violence” and also “wholeheartedly support[s] the efforts of these survivors and activists.”
The email continued to explain that the community service organization “hope[s] to continue the momentum of these demonstrations, by spreading the mission of March for Our Lives, which seeks to increase awareness and strengthen voter registration efforts.” Dwight Hall is currently in conversation with representatives of the March for Our Lives movement to determine how it can best support their work on campus and in the New Haven community.
Many students are already envisioning how the movement can move forward on campus. Gabe Malek ’20, who attended the march in Washington, D.C., said he is confident that there are “outlets on campus” that will fuel the movement and that he hopes that students continue to voice support for the issue.
Grace Jin ’21, who also attended the march in Washington, D.C., said she hopes that advocates take a “grassroots approach” to the issue. “It’s a nonpartisan issue that’s going to need bipartisan support,” she said.
Hu emphasized that a bipartisan approach is critical for the movement. She pointed to a new student-led climate change plan supported by both the Yale College Republicans and the Yale College Democrats as an example of a “really powerful” bipartisan agreement.
Students also said that they hope to promote gun control reform during the midterm elections this fall, voting out politicians beholden to the NRA.
“I really hope this is the final straw,” Shapiro said. “I hope politicians realize that young people will vote them out if they do not act swiftly and properly with gun laws and restrictions.”
Chloe Glass | firstname.lastname@example.org