[Vision2020] UI students make their voices heard in the national conversation on gun control

Moscow Cares moscowcares at moscow.com
Thu Mar 8 12:03:26 PST 2018

Courtesy of today’s (March 8, 2018) University of Idaho Argonaut at:



From Parkland to the Palouse
UI students make their voices heard in the national conversation on gun control

On a Wednesday afternoon, while many University of Idaho students discussed biology, English and history in class, a handful of students stepped outside the classroom to discuss a single topic — gun control.

“I think gun control is a really important issue that not enough people are talking about. It’s not about taking away guns, it’s about making it harder for bad people to get guns,” said Diana Cervantes, one of the students who participated in the walkout. “I want to feel safe when I go to school.”

The protest sparked interest campus-wide after a Facebook event was created Feb. 26, inviting students to leave their classes for exactly 17 minutes. Caroline Hawkins, the page’s creator, said it was not her intention for the walk out to revolve around gun control.

Instead, she said she hoped students and faculty would take the time to honor the 17 high school students killed in the Feb. 14 Parkland, Florida, shooting.

“A lot of the movement is about gun control and gun rights,” Hawkins said. “I’m kind of neutral on that. It’s not really about that, it’s more kind of honoring the victims of the shootings and addressing that it did happen and showing our sympathy for it.”

Hawkins, a member of Delta Gamma Sorority, said her fellow chapter members helped formulate the idea of a campus walkout. After posting the event to Facebook, Hawkins said nearly 150 users signed up to attend.

Cervantes, along with two of her classmates, took the time to leave their biology class and walk outside the UI Commons. Cervantes said protests like this are essential in furthering necessary conversations regarding gun policy, adding policy makers should take note of the recent rise in student protests across the country.

“We are the future of politics. We are the voters,” Cervantes said. “They should keep that in mind.”

Thomas Spence, who walked out with Cervantes, said he just wants to feel safe while attending his classes.

“It’s our lives that are being put on the line every day,” Spence said. “We’re the future. If we don’t figure out what we stand for now, how will we make a lasting impact?”

Benjamin James, a clinical professor at UI, said he sees protests as one of the most important activities a student can participate in while in school.

“Weapons have no place in any kind of educational setting. There are much better ways to create a safer and less dangerous and less aggressive society than arming everybody,” James said. “I think it’s really important for just creating a positive educational atmosphere.”

While Wednesday’s protest saw a smaller turnout than expected, a much larger demonstration remains planned for March 24.

March For Our Lives, a national movement centered in Washington D.C., aims to discuss federal gun laws and the need for increased regulation. The movement, which will make its way to Moscow, has already gained traction on the UI campus and plans to be much more politically pointed.

“Our’s is a little bit more political, but at the same time it’s mostly just bringing awareness and trying to have our political leaders notice, because we want to demand for change against gun violence and mass shootings and really bring awareness, because something does need to happen,” said Michaela Avants, a first-year UI student.

Avants said she hopes Moscow community members will see the march as an opportunity for healthy, peaceful debate.

She said volunteers will be ready with voter registration information, encouraging participants to take a more active role in local government.

Avants also said local Moscow high schoolers, much like the students from Florida, reached out, asking how they could help plant the event.

“We didn’t actually go and get them,” she said. “There’s a few students that are really taking the initiative to do this. They’re the ones actually gathering more students.”

The March will begin in Friendship Square at 1 p.m. After moving down Main Street, protestors will make their way to East City Park, where a rally will be held until 3 p.m.

Avants said those considering attending should not fear for their safety, as Moscow police will be in attendance, making sure the afternoon’s events play out peacefully.

“Some people really aren’t happy with it, and I think it’s just us trying to voice that. It’s more about bringing awareness for people that have been affected by gun violence,” Avants said. “This is more something that everybody can be involved in, whether or not you are politically involved or not.”


Seeya 'round town, Moscow, because . . .

"Moscow Cares" (the most fun you can have with your pants on)
Tom Hansen
Moscow, Idaho
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