Earlier last week, Maya Fonkeu ’25 and I — this year’s president and vice president of the Yale College Council — were contacted by organizers at March for Our Lives. They shared the below opinion piece, asking us to consider joining a movement of young people fighting for a future that is safe and free from gun violence. Without hesitation, Maya and I signed on because we firmly stand in solidarity with our peers at University of North Carolina, Stanford University, Harvard University, Georgetown University, University of California Berkeley and the dozens of universities across the nation that recognize the time to act is now.

Today, over 50 student publications across the country will run this very column, which is  a declaration that our safety and livelihoods supersede special interests and the status quo. More than 140 student leaders, organizers and advocates are speaking with one voice, and we are speaking with clarity and conviction. 

The joint column onto which Maya and I signed is below:


Students are taught to love a country that values guns over our lives.

Some of us hear the sound of gunfire when we watch fireworks on the fourth of July, or when we watch a drumline performance at halftime. But all of us have heard the siren of an active shooter drill and fear that one day our campus will be next.

By painful necessity, we have grown to become much more than students learning in a classroom — we have shed every last remnant of our childhood innocence. The steady silence of Congress is as deafening as gunfire.

We will not wait for individual trauma to affect us all before we respond together — our empathy is not that brittle. Our generation responds to shootings by bearing witness and sharing solidarity like none other. We text each other our last thoughts and we cry on each others’ shoulders and we mourn with each other at vigils. We convene in classrooms and we congregate in churches and we deliberate in dining halls. We’re staunch and we’re stubborn and we’re steadfast.

Our hearts bleed from this uniquely American brand of gun violence. Yet, we still summon the courage to witness firework shows and remind ourselves that we love our country so much that we expect better from it. 

We believe that our country has the capacity to love us back. There are bullet shaped holes in our hearts, but our spirits are unbreakable.

History has taught us that when injustice calls students to act, we shape the moral arc of this country.

Students in the Civil Rights Movement shared their stories through protest, creating the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) that organized Freedom Rides, sit-ins, and marches. In demanding freedom from racial violence, this group’s activism became woven into American history. 

Students across America organized teach-ins during the Vietnam War to expose its calculated cruelties — in doing so, rediscovering this country’s empathy. Their work, in demanding freedom from conscription and taxpayer-funded violence, is intertwined with the American story.

This fall, UNC Chapel Hill students’ text exchanges during the August 28th shooting reached the hands of the President. The nation read the desperate words of our wounded community, as we organized support, rallied and got thrown out of the North Carolina General Assembly. We demanded freedom from gun violence, just as we have in Parkland and Sandy Hook and MSU and UNLV.

For 360,000 of us since Columbine, the toll of bearing witness, of losing our classmates and friends, of succumbing to the cursed emotional vocabulary of survivorship, has become our American story.

Yes, it is not fair that we must rise up against problems that we did not create, but the organizers of past student movements know from lived experience that we decide the future of the country.

The country watched student sit-ins at Greensboro, and Congress subsequently passed civil rights legislation. The country witnessed as students exposed its lies on Vietnam, and Congress subsequently withdrew from the war. 

In recent years, the country watched student survivors march against gun violence, and the White House subsequently created the National Office of Gun Violence Prevention on September 22nd, 2023. 

So as students and young people alike, we should know our words don’t end on this page — we will channel them into change. 

We invite you to join this generation’s community of organizers, all of us united in demanding a future free of gun violence. We understand the gravity of this commitment, because it’s not simply our lives we protect with prose and protest. It is our way of life itself. 

We will not allow America to be painted in a new layer of blood. We will not allow politicians to gamble our lives for NRA money.

And most of all, politicians will not have the shallow privilege of reading another front-cover op-ed by students on their knees, begging them to do their jobs — we do not need a permission slip to defend our freedoms. They will instead contend with the reality that by uniting with each other and among parents, educators, and communities, our demands become undeniable. 

We feel intense anger and frustration and sadness, and in its wake we search for reaffirmations of our empathy — the remarkable human capacity to take on a tiny part of someone else’s suffering. We rediscover this fulfillment in our organizing, in our community, in not just moving away from the unbearable pain of our yesterday but in moving toward an unrelenting hope for our tomorrow.

Our generation dares politicians to look us in the eye and tell us they’re too afraid to try.


Julian Suh-Toma President, Yale College Council
Maya Fonkeu Vice President, Yale College Council
Alexander Denza UNC-Chapel Hill March For Our Lives, Co-President
Sage Clausen UNC-Chapel Hill March For Our Lives, Co-President
Andrew Sun UNC-Chapel Hill March For Our Lives, Lead Organizer
Samuel Scarborough UNC-Chapel Hill March For Our Lives, Lead Organizer
Luke Diasio UNC-Chapel Hill March For Our Lives, Lead Organizer
Amie Boakye UNC-Chapel Hill March For Our Lives, Lead Organizer
Hailey Baldwin UNC-Chapel Hill March For Our Lives, Lead Organizer
Ben Diasio UNC-Chapel Hill March For Our Lives, Lead Organizer
Amaia Clayton Duke Students for Gun Safety, President; March For Our Lives Idaho, Former Co-Director
Carrie McDonald Georgetown March For Our Lives, Chapter Lead
Ryn Flood North Carolina State University March For Our Lives, Organizer
Waverly Zhao Iowa WTF Director – Statewide organization fighting far-right legislation in Iowa
Ava Katzenell American University March For Our Lives, Events Chair
Akshara Eswar March For Our Lives Iowa, Executive State Director
Josue Aleman March For Our Lives Iowa, Communications Co-Director
Connor Murray Senator, Iona University Student Government Association
Eloísa Harper March For Our Lives Idaho, Co-Director
Jake Fales American University March for Our Lives, Co-Director
Olivia Leake Indiana University Students Demand Action, President
Faith Cardillo March For Our Lives NJ, Rapid Response Lead & Bulletproof Pride Founder
Hailie Bonz Facilitator of CORE in Urbandale, previous MFOLIA and IowaWTF
Ashley Ju Cary March For Our Lives, President
Amelia Southern-Uribe Executive Director of Zero Hour Arkansas, University of Arkansas
Mya Brown March for Our Lives at Howard, President
Elroi Yonatan March For Our Lives at Howard Vice President
Maddie Barbezat March For Our Lives Eckerd, President
Danny Steele March For Our Lives at Howard, Co-Legislative Chair


Seven Charlestin March for Our Lives Pine Hills, Chapter Lead
Lillian Mennuti March for Our Lives School Without Walls, Chapter Lead
Lucina Glynn March For Our Lives Idaho, Co-Director
Saami Baig March For Our Lives Houston, Co-Executive Director
Wyatt Bassow March For Our Lives Tennessee, Local Organizer
Conor Webb March For Our Lives Albany (NY), President
Shruti Govindarajan March For Our Lives (Buffalo Grove) Chapter Co-lead
Fizza Khan Lourdes University Students Demand Action, President
Madison Rosen Lake Forest Academy Students Demand Action, President
Reem Khalifa NYC Students Demand Action, President
Celeste Iroha Enough of Gun Violence, CEO/Founder, President
Lucy Sarkissian 2023 Giffords Courage Fellow & Former Co-Director of Team ENOUGH Denver
Jayden Seay North Carolina A&T State University Student Leader & Activist
Anna Geisler March for Our Lives Seaholm High (Michigan), President
Sophie Hanawalt March for Our Lives Seaholm High (Michigan), President
Saanvi Mukkara March For Our Lives Greater Dallas President, Texas
Mirabella Johnson Northwestern University Students Demand Action Chapter Co-Founder & Co-Lead
Aurelio Valdez Jr. The El Paso Genders & Sexualities Alliance Board, Founder
CRH MFOL Cabinet March for Our Lives – Choate Rosemary Hall, President
Junya Liu March For Our Lives Palatine, Co-Lead
Leena Nahlawi March For Our Lives Palatine, Co-Lead
Evelyn Thomas March For Our Lives Palatine, Co-Lead
Jax George March For Our Lives Palatine, Co-Lead
Sonia Jezierski March For Our Lives Palatine, Co-Lead
Sophia Tziortzis March For Our Lives Palatine, Co-Lead
Connor J. Linggi George Washington University Allied in Pride, Co-Director Of Finance & Director Of Finance, Bulletproof Pride
Ava Walsh March For Our Lives Burlington County Leader
Kyle Lumsden Students Demand Action at UNC Chapel Hill Chapter Lead
Gowri Abhinanda Team Enough Florida Organizer
Lily Eng March For Our Lives Virginia, Woodson High School Chapter Lead
Sarayu Bellary March For Our Lives Dallas Chapter Lead


Jillian Medina March For Our Lives GW, Co-Director
Amanda Campos Campus Climate Network, Coalition Coordinator
Alicia Colomer Campus Climate Network, Managing Director
Maxine Slattery Students Demand Action at Boston University, Vice President
Saanvi Kataria March For Our Lives, University of Maryland Chapter Lead
Mikah Rector-Brooks March For Our Lives National, student at the University of Michigan
Dahlia Solomon March For Our Lives Long Island, Chapter lead
Raisa Rubin-Stankiewicz March for Our Lives New Jersey
Ashton Sands March for Our Lives Colorado
Erin DeSantis Students Demand Action National Advisory Board Member and Lewisburg, PA Group Lead; Pennsylvania State Chair for High School Democrats of America
Ilyas Khan Sunrise Movement Pittsburgh
Jasmine McKnight March For Our Lives Arcata Co-Lead
Astreya McKnight March For Our Lives Arcata Co-Lead
Natalie Lehman March For Our Lives Arcata Co-Lead
Natalie Dreyer March For Our Lives Arcata Co-Lead
Ava Schneider Students Demand Action Essex High School, Co-Lead
Edie Young DC Events Organizer at Queer Youth Assemble, and Jackson Reed HS Disability Student Alliance Founder and President
RuQuan Brown MFOL Board
Armaan Sharma March For Our Lives, Fremont Chapter Lead, California Spokesperson
Yadira Paz-Martinez Duke Student Government Vice President of Equity and Outreach, Co-President of Duke Define America
Aydin Tariq Board Member, Illinois State Council on Mental Health and Trauma-Informed Care; Host, We Are Generation Z Podcast
Anya Williams Jackson-Reed HS Disability Student Alliance Event’s Lead
Mariana Meza Giffords: Courage to Fight Gun Violence Fellow, March For Our Lives El Paso Co-Founder and Former Lead, Former MFOL Texas Policy Captain and Texas State Director, Former MFOL National Movement Organizer
Phoebe Barr Fossil Fuel Divest Harvard Lead Organizer, Campus Climate Network Organizer
Esmée Silverman Queer Youth Assemble co-president
Sarah Cinco Former MFOL Texas Outreach & Partnership State Captain


Madeline Lake Texas Student Activist, Former March For Our Lives Texas State Organizing Director, Co-Founder and Former Executive Director of March For Our Lives Houston
Bennett Younger Jackson Reed HS Disability Student Alliance Vice President
Keiana James Former MFOL Iowa DEI and Operations State Organizer, Young Progressives Vice President at UW Madison
Ethan Nichols Founder & Executive Director, Students for Gun Legislation; Biden/Harris DNC Delegate
Soraya Bata Georgetown March For Our Lives
Ari Kane Georgetown March for Our Lives, Chapter Lead
Lucas Basualdo Fossil Free Pitt Coalition
Henry Cohen Pitt Dems Political Director/former candidate for DC Council
Jasir Rahman Rice University & Team ENOUGH Executive Council
Simon Richardson March For Our Lives Idaho, Former Co-Director, Brown Students Demand Action Organizer
Jennifer Vo March for Our Lives Arizona, Former Organizing Director; Giffords Courage 2022 Fellow Class
Kate Lyden Pennsylvania College Democrats President
Mia Tretta Brown University Students Demand Action and Team Enough Co-Lead
Luke Weber March For Our Lives Texas, Former Director of Outreach and Partnership and UT Austin Student Government Representative
Leighanne Munoz Students Demand Action at New Mexico State University, Co-Lead
Charlotte James University of Kansas
Jayanti Gupta Former March For Our Lives Michigan State Director and Former MFOL National Movement Organizer, Giffords Courage Fellows Class of 2022
Adrian Vazquez Iona University Student Government Association Freshman Senator
Kavita Parikh Former Students Demand Action Toledo Founder
Lilly PV Jackson Reed HS Student Government Association 10th Grade Vice President & Disability Student Alliance Club Aide
Caleb Schultz Brown Students Demand Action Founder and Co-Lead
Rhea Maniar Chair of the Florida High School Democrats
Mayha Syed DePaul University March For Our Lives President
Caiden Leipelt When We All Vote Student Ambassador, Bulletproof Pride Judicial Lead


Priscella Yun MFOL El Paso, Texas Former Lead
Senbahavalli Ramasamy Organizer, University at Albany
Jamie Pemberton KSU For All of Us, Founder
Saylor Reinders Students Demand Action at Michigan State University, Co-Lead
Abigail McGuire University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Student Body President
Alex Koscielski University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Student Body Vice President
AJ Bass Team Enough at Virginia Tech President
Ella Langridge Rice University Young Democrats, Vice President
Zoe Touray March for our Lives, Michigan / National Spokesperson
Gabby Hartz Team Enough President at Columbia University Medical Campus
Nick McKee-Rist Kansas State YDSA
Vienna Cavazos Delaware Queer and Trans Youth Student Activist, Bulletproof Pride Member
Kirby Boutte Bulletproof Pride Onboarding Lead
Nirav Patel University of Michigan
Kintan Silvany Case Western Reserve University
Sarayah Shaw Student Activist and GSA copresident in Nashville TN
Mackenzie Jardine Editor-in-Chief, La Voz News, De Anza
Jacob Hays Georgia For Change — Founder
Caroline Rabideau UF College Democrats – Marketing Director
Connor Effrain UF College Democrats – Internal Affairs Director
Olivia Packham UF College Democrats – Advocacy Director
Lily Kalandjian University of Florida College Democrats – Vice President
Saanvi Arora University of California: Berkeley
Frances Suavillo Stanford University Alum, Former LAUSD Student Member of the Board
Kendall Brown American University MFOL Outreach Chair
Sloan Duvall President, UNC Young Democrats
Alex Edgar University of California: Berkeley, External Affairs Vice President


Melanie Jeffrey American University March for Our Lives, Communications Chair
Ronia Green University of California, Los Angeles
Antonio Osso American University March For Our Lives, Secretary
Avery Roth University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Zelda Darga American University MFOL DIA Chair
Olivia Luna March For Our Lives Idaho Organizer, Young Democrats at Boise State
William Farkas Young Democrats at Boise State President

JULIAN SUH-TOMA is a junior in Benjamin Franklin College. He is President of the Yale College Council. Contact him at julian.suh-toma@yale.edu.