Lesley Students Walkout in Solidarity with Parkland

Sarah Beth Campisi's picture

The unusual weather of Feb. 21 brought sunshine and 71-degree temperatures. It was a beautiful day for a student walkout at Lesley University, held in solidarity with the recent mass shooting at Stoneham Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

The walkout happened during classes at 12 p.m. on Wednesday in Lesley’s Doble quad. Approximately 30 students and professors participated. Junior Annie Cooper was one student to take part.

“Thirty is both a small and large number at the same time. It’s small when you think of the scope of the problem, but big when you look around at those 30 people and realize that they have the same thoughts and feelings as you,” Cooper said.

The walkout was promoted on Lesley’s campus primarily by senior Nicole Mello via social media. Mello wore a shirt that read, “A Woman’s Place is in the Resistance,” to the protest.

“I thought the turnout was pretty great, especially considering I only started planning this on Monday when the nationwide time was announced,” Mello said. “I was impressed that so many people came and understand why they were there and wanted to help. For me, I felt proud, and optimistic, to see everyone there like that. It meant a lot to know I wasn’t alone in this, and neither are the people we did this in support of: the victims and survivors.”

The walkout lasted 17 minutes, to symbolize the deaths of the 17 victims who died during the Parkland shooting. The group sat together in silence during this time.

“When you’re silent for that long, and around that many people who are also silent, it’s really quite uncomfortable,” Cooper said. “It’s a discomfort which I think is unique to sitting in the middle of a crowded space, especially on a day like Wednesday which was so beautiful and when the campus was really bustling, it was strange to sit in the middle of that with 30 people and be silent.”

“I didn’t fully realize how many people were there because by the time a lot of them showed up I had my head down and eyes closed,” said senior Jamie Magid. “It was actually nice to feel more human presences around me, at this event and at this point in time it gave me a feeling of security. I felt very connected to the other people there.”

Similar walkouts and protests occurred across the country on Wednesday, to stand with Parkland as well as call for stricter gun laws.

“I feel like this was such a small piece of everything that’s been going on,” Magid said. “It’s really important for us as students, because we’ve seen it expressed over and over that students’ lives are acceptable collateral in the fight to protect guns, to do what we can to make sure people know the indifference they view our well being with is not acceptable.”

Future nationwide protests are being planned on social media for March 14 and April 20.

“I want this to be a show of solidarity with the victims from Parkland, first and foremost,” Mello said. “I wanted a group of higher education students and professors gathered who advocate for better gun control. Massachusetts has pretty good laws compared to most of the country, but even those can be improved.”