Gun violence tragedy sparks student action

Matthew Chupack, Staff Writer

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Sophomore Campbell Sharpe said she was in second grade when her classmate’s relative was murdered by a shooter on his way to a grocery store. Sharpe said that she previously viewed this classmate as a troublemaker, but this event changed her understanding of the boy and his life. This experience, among others, motivated Sharpe to take action against gun violence during the walkout that took place at Glenbrook North on March 14.

“I want to change the world in some way at least,” said Sharpe. “One of my big fears is just becoming another person working in a desk job.” 

Sharpe, along with other students around the country, is taking action against gun violence through marches, walkouts and other supportive movements.   

Marc Dixon, associate professor of sociology at Dartmouth College, said in a phone interview that there were over 800 marches around the country on March 24for March for Our Lives.

“It tends to be students that have some resources … that might protest more,” said Dixon. “Students who grow up in households where they actually discuss politics … tend to be more likely to participate in these kinds of political events.”

Gretchen Brion-Meisels, lecturer on education at Harvard Graduate School of Education, said in a phone interview that media plays a large role in student activism because it controls how information is shared and whose voices get heard.

“It’s really important to have representatives [in] the media who are committed to sharing different perspectives so that not everything comes through one lens,” Brion-Meisels said. 

Sharpe said these different perspectives were seen while planning the walkout at GBN. 

“[The people planning the walkout] use [Instagram] to spread knowledge to let people know exactly what is going on,” said Sharpe. “[But other] Instagram accounts have gone onto our Instagram [posts] and commented inappropriate, racist things.”

Sophomore Andrew Deger was one of the students who used Instagram to voice his opinion about the GBN walkout on the “GBN Students Against Gun Violence” Instagram account. Deger said he disliked some of the walkout’s political undertones, and he thought it threatened people’s ability to huntbecause the AR-15 rifle can also be used for hunting. However, voicing his opinion through Instagram led to conflict.

“I think my voice is getting heard,” said Deger. “I’ve been blocked [on] Instagram about three times.”

According to Brion-Meisels, the walkout is one moment in history where the public is paying a lot of attention to young people advocating for social justice and leading movements. She said student activism has been increasing due to the number of students advocating for change from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

“In this particular moment, under our particular president, I think there is a lot more hope being put in and stake being put in young people around catalyzing change,” said Brion-Meisels. “Youth voice doesn’t mean that young people have to have all the power. I think it means that they have to have a seat at the table, and, in order to do that, they need to have a … voice.”

Sharpe said it is important for students to take part in activism because they are the future, and students are the ones who will end up replacing current government officials.

“I definitely think [the walkout] made an impact,” said Sharpe.“I think that overall, the fact that so many schools participated, I think that it definitely let people know that we are here, … and that we are going to make a change.” 

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