Walkout to protest inaction


By Editorial Board

The Northern Star Editorial Board stands beside the brave individuals who spoke up against gun violence and agrees student participation in walkouts is essential in continuing the dialogue. We stand with students who choose to participate in the national walkouts and consider walkouts a proper form of political protest.

A tragedy struck our nation Feb. 14 as 17 lives were lost at the hand of a gunman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. It’s been over a month since the shooting, but the survivors have not forgotten their friends lost and continue to fight for justice.

The attack at Parkland hits NIU close to home as its campus community and survivors gathered at Cole Hall just an hour after the Parkland shooting to commemorate NIU’s 10th anniversary of the shooting that claimed the lives of five students. Despite the close connection, NIU and DeKalb communities have not organized a protest, rally, march or walkout in response to the recent shootings.

On March 14, the one month anniversary of the Parkland shooting, The Women’s March Youth EMPOWER organization called for a National School Walkout Day, where students and faculty were encouraged to walk out of their respective institutions in protest of the inaction by national legislators when it came to gun violence, according to their website.

EMPOWER has called for two additional national school walkouts: The March for Our Lives March 24 and a National High School Walkout April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting.

The NIU student body and DeKalb community need to participate in these walkouts. Some say the walkouts are ineffective and only serve to make a physical statement. However, the Editorial Board believes walkouts demonstrate our stance on the issue of gun violence in schools via our physical presence.

Over 3,136 schools have participated in walkouts across the country, according to data collected by the EMPOWER movement. Schools that participate in the national walkout or host their own are encouraged to register via EMPOWER’s website and record their headcount.

Among the policies they support, EMPOWER calls for Congress to ban assault weapons, expand background checks for all gun sales and pass a gun violence restraining order law.

Gun violence restraining orders would allow a person or people close to a troubled individual to request a court order that lets law enforcement temporarily take away that person’s gun rights, according to a March 19 USA Today article.

The Editorial Board believes passing this legislation is instrumental in recognizing “red flag” behaviors and stopping violent crimes before they breed tragedies.

Students face the risk and repercussions of missed classes and unreceptive attitudes from administration by participating in these walkouts in a college environment. However, by walking out of classrooms in spite of the potential lost points, students show their support and force oppressors to acknowledge resistance.

The Editorial Board urges NIU professors to be forgiving of students who choose to participate in the national school walkouts. Threatening students with harsh punishments doesn’t teach students to be free-thinkers or support their First Amendment rights. With that being said, we agree students should be held responsible for any missed assignments or exams because of their participation in a walkout.

We encourage students to use the time to actively protest Congress’ inaction and educate themselves, rather than simply walking out of class and going home. Take the opportunity to write a letter to local representatives, register to vote or read up on upcoming elections and proposed policies of the candidates.

We need to keep the momentum going and the conversation about gun violence alive.