One month after the horrific shooting of seventeen students and staff at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, students at high schools and colleges across the Jesuit network joined thousands of young people throughout the country in walkouts and other forms of public action and prayer yesterday.
The national movement to walk out at 10 AM in all time zones in the U.S. was organized primarily by students working with EMPOWER. EMPOWER is the youth branch of the Women’s March, which organized marches for women’s rights in Washington and many other cities after President Donald Trump took office.
In San Francisco, approximately 700 students at Saint Ignatius College Preparatory took part in a student-led rally in front of the school. San Francisco Mayor Mark Farrell, a 1992 graduate of the school, a representative from the office of Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and city government officials were in attendance, a number of them offering brief remarks. After honoring each of the victims of the Parkland shooting with a moment of silence, student leaders Chandler Crump ’18, Gabby Schmidt ’18, and Kelly Connolly ’19 spoke with passion about their generation as one “of change.” They invited their fellow students to “hold [elected] leaders accountable” and call out the hypocritical statements of political and media leaders on gun violence. They also called attention to politicians who accept donations from the National Rifle Association and public policy suggestions made by President Trump and other leaders to arm classroom teachers.
In Indianapolis, Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School student leaders sought to make a campus walkout rally as inclusive as possible. Members of a variety of campus groups including the Young Democrats, Young Republicans, Social Justice Club, Black Student Union, and Gay-Straight Alliance took part in the planning of the rally that was attended by over 200 students, faculty, staff, and parents. Reflecting on the importance of the walkout, Sophie Ossip, a Brebeuf senior, said “You have a voice and you can use it. You have a choice, you can be a bystander or you can jump in and do something,” while speaking with WRTV, Indianapolis’ ABC affiliate station earlier in the week.
In Portland, Oregon, students at Jesuit High School organized lunchtime teach-ins focused on the three advocacy asks referenced in the Jesuit Schools Network letter to Congress in the days leading up to their rally yesterday. During the rally, the bells chimed once for each of the 17 students and three staff who lost their lives in Parkland, as students shared details of the fallen’s lives. The rally concluded with student leaders offering reflections and calls to action. Senior Sylvie Martin implored her peers to take action, sharing, “Our politicians need to know that no action=no vote. If you agree with me register to vote. Vote when you have the opportunity to, because we can make an impact. Actively keep the conversation going. This is our world now, it’s our responsibility to take care of its citizens if our leaders can’t.” Plans are underway to organize an in-district legislative advocacy day in response to the rally.
In Washington, D.C., Gonzaga College High School students joined hundreds of other students and supporters at the U.S. Capitol for a rally. Their actions did not come without consequences. Seeking to ensure that students understood the gravity of an act of civil disobedience, those who participated in student-led walkout received a JUG (a traditional penalty in Jesuit secondary education for violations of school rules, derived from the Latin sub jugum, meaning “under a burden”), requiring them to attend an after-school session to reflect on why they made the decision to act as they did.
Walkouts also took place at Jesuit colleges and universities like Santa Clara University near San Jose, California. “We honor the victims of this senseless massacre by acting on our belief in the sanctity of all life and by working to enact laws and procedures to guarantee the right to live in peace,” said Fr. Michael Engh, S.J., Santa Clara University president, who spoke to the students assembled at the Mission Chapel at the center of campus.
Other walkouts, prayer services, etc. can be viewed on social media sites at the following links:
[Editor’s Note: This listing is not exhaustive. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to a social media post of photos, videos, etc. and we will add your institution to this list. Thank you for understanding.]