By Ezra Wallach
Dear New Trier Student Alliance and the New Trier administration, on behalf of myself as well as many of my peers, I ask you to please do less.
Student Alliance and others are planning the Mar. 14 walkout as a safe and seamless demonstration. This may take the form of a morning announcement or a free period for the duration of the walkout. The specifics have yet to be determined. While I appreciate that the school is backing the cause, in my opinion, both of these ideas ruin the natural spirit of a walkout.
A walkout is meant to be an act of protest shown by leaving and walking out of a place where you are supposed to be. In this case, school. Walkouts are not promoted by the place that you are planning to walk out of.
The website for the nation-wide walkout (created by The Women’s March’s Youth EMPOWER group) pledges “to protest Congress’ inaction in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods.”
On Mar. 14, students shouldn’t just think and reflect. Students who will walk out want an effective display of their views and motives, not just another moment for thoughts and prayers. By disrupting the status quo, we can bring attention to our cause and spark action.
The potential of the walkout at New Trier is diminished when it is talked about on the morning announcements. A planned schedule that the administration created does not disrupt anything.
There’s no need for the school to organize a guest speaker, or to ensure no consequences for truancy. Those not participating shouldn’t be allowed to just hang out rather than attend class.
Our students shouldn’t be safe because Student Alliance organized an agreement with the school administration. They should be safe because they have the power of one another. That should be enough.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, because “the law requires students to go to school, schools can typically discipline students for missing class, even if they’re doing so to participate in a protest or otherwise express themselves.”
ACLU adds that free speech in schools is okay until it disrupts the functioning of the school. Thousands of students walking out of the school would easily disrupt the functioning of school. Thousands of truancies, however, would also likely be too many to mark.
But, we should never have been concerned about whether or not we would be punished by the school. Rather, the focus should have been on how the continuous loss of lives can be attributed to the lack of policy to decrease gun violence.
I hope that Student Alliance and all who are planning this event understand my concerns. I also hope that they acknowledge that these beliefs are not from a minority. Students want the walkout to be an impactful demonstration.
We don’t want you to do something else. We just want you to stop doing too much. It really can just be a walkout. Please, just let the walkout be a walkout.
We should never have gotten to this point. Assault rifles that have been used for mass murders like the ones in Orlando and Parkland are killing machines. Yet, they are legal in 43 states.
97 percent of the U.S. population supports federal universal background checks, but we still don’t have them. These laws will not solve all gun violence in America, but what we have in place just isn’t cutting it.
It shouldn’t take students walking out of school to effect real change on common sense gun laws, and it sure should not have taken another school shooting for our government to act.
Ezra Wallach is a student at New Trier Township High School. This Op/Ed originally appeared in the New Trier News.
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