Twenty-five students walked out of White Hall at 10:00 a.m. for 17 minutes to stand in solidarity with the 17 victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, yesterday.
Elizabeth Testa, an assistant professor in the School of Teaching, Learning and Curriculum Studies, as well as three other professors in the College of Education, Health and Human Services, stood with their students and silently observed their message.
“The students had a lot of different reasons for why they were there,” Testa said, “but all of them were united on this idea that they were concerned that gun violence in schools is a problem that may even have implications in their own professional practice at some point”
Students who participated raised concerns about students, what is being asked of teachers and how policymakers will respond to the student protests. Many of the students who took part in the walkout are preparing to become teachers and educators themselves.
Junior journalism major Kristen Jones photographed the event and spoke with students who participated. One student studying special education explained that she never wants to have to explain why school shootings happen to her students.
“It was very moving,” Jones said.
Despite being nationally organized by EMPOWER, the youth branch of the Women’s March, and gaining major public attention, this 25-person walkout seemed to be the only of its kind on Kent State’s campus.
This may have been because of the weather; at 10:00 a.m. it was below freezing and snowing at Risman Plaza. Kaitlin Bennett, the former president of Turning Point USA’s Kent State chapter, came to Risman Plaza with hopes of a counter protest, but found no protest to counter.
“If they cared that much about it you’d think they would be out there actually doing something,” Bennett said.
While she feels those participating in the walkout have good intentions, Bennett thinks they are misinformed on the issue of guns in general and argued they should advocate for self-protection and work to better educate themselves on the issue.
“I don’t know if it just fell through or maybe it’s too cold, but I think it’s a pretty hot topic,” Bennett said.
David Williams is a safety reporter. Contact him at [email protected]