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Luther joins nationwide school walkout

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Asha Aden (‘20), Katie Moon (‘19), Forrest Schrader (‘18), Johanna Beaupre (‘18), Janet Irakunda (‘19), and College Pastor Mike Blair lead attendees in song, talk and prayer.

Asha Aden (‘20), Katie Moon (‘19), Forrest Schrader (‘18), Johanna Beaupre (‘18), Janet Irakunda (‘19), and College Pastor Mike Blair lead attendees in song, talk and prayer.

Martin Donovan (‘20) | Chips

Martin Donovan (‘20) | Chips

Asha Aden (‘20), Katie Moon (‘19), Forrest Schrader (‘18), Johanna Beaupre (‘18), Janet Irakunda (‘19), and College Pastor Mike Blair lead attendees in song, talk and prayer.

Martin Donovan, Staff Writer

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Members of the Luther College community participated in the nationwide walkout to protest political inaction surrounding gun control on March 14. The walkout also served as a time to remember the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Starting at 10 a.m., members of the Luther community gathered at the steps of the Center for Faith and Life (CFL) for 17 minutes as a symbol to remember the 17 people who were killed in Parkland exactly a month prior.

Johanna Beaupre (‘18) was one of the organizers of the walkout.

“Besides showing our support for the students walking out across the nation, we wanted to encourage members of the Luther community to use their power of voting to help solve the problem of gun violence in our nation,” Beaupre said. “We have the power to vote for people who will work to actually pass bills to end the outrageous gun violence in our schools.”

Photo courtesy of Photo Bureau
Students join hands during the gathering.

The political lobbying power of the National Rifle Association (NRA) was also a focal point of the walkout. While addressing the crowd gathered in front of the CFL, Asha Aden (‘20) pointed to the NRA’s political influence as a reason for the lack of gun control legislation in Congress.

“Since December 14, 2012, there has been no major gun legislation passed on the federal level,” Aden said in her address. “This is because the National Rifle Association, NRA, a powerful political lobbyist, has led the fight against gun control efforts.”

The hate symbols that were stomped into the football field at Carlson Stadium was also mentioned at Luther’s walkout.

“The importance of this walkout was only amplified after the hate crimes that were committed on Luther’s campus the weekend before,” Beaupre said. “Safety in schools means freedom from the fear of gun violence, as well as racism, antisemitism, and all other forms of hatred. We used the walkout to stand in solidarity with all students who feel unsafe in school.”

As the protest progressed, Luther students standing in the front of the crowd crossed arms and held hands as a sign of unity.

Students gather on the steps of the CFL to remember the victims of the Parkland shooting

“What I also found very powerful was that we started holding hands, and that was really exciting for me,” Katy Roets (‘18) said. “It was such a minor thing that we didn’t mean to do, but it was cool to watch. It was just a really powerful physical affirmation of [our] cause.”

Besides this act of unity by some students, Roets also said that the crowd of people at the CFL provided physical support for the attendees of the walkout.

“I was at the very front in front of the microphones and I looked back a couple of times and saw this really incredible sea of students,” Roets said. “Getting that perspective is always a motivator to keep doing what you are doing because it affirms what you were doing to begin with. It’s hard to keep doing something if you feel like there is not support behind you.”

The nationwide walkout was organized exactly a month after the Parkland shooting, so the gun control movement would maintain its momentum. However, some Luther students believed that the gun control movement should have mobilized earlier and had more protests leading up to the national walkout. 

“Although this event has been an amazing thing and an amazing first step for so many people, the fact that it is coming a month after the event is kind of telling how the gun control movement has been going,” Collin Zollinger (‘20) said. “We are so delayed with our reactions, or we have no reactions at all. Having more momentum, having more events, starting sooner; instead of creating momentum now with events like this.”

Additionally, some students saw the walkout as a beneficial way to start discussions surrounding gun control on Luther’s campus.

“I think it’s a good stepping stone for further conversations, and it is important to get all views,” Alex Aakre (‘19) said. “Having continuing dialogue or discussions like the [Center for Ethics and Public Engagement] is hosting, that is an important thing to be a part of. If you want to be engaged on the issue you should be aware of all sides”.

Aakre added that there gun debate is a complex topic that should be addressed in an intentional manner.

“I like my guns, but a lot of my family works in schools,” Aakre said. “Every time there is a school shooting, that really hits home. I think there are steps that we need to be taking, but having slow and deliberate steps because we don’t want to cite fear.”

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