Supporting “Walk up not walk out” is problematic

Lyndsay Monsen, Copy Editor

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It’s been a tough past few weeks at Luther, there’s no doubt about that. As a campus, we’ve had to go through the unimaginable. Every day since the hate incident, I have been plagued with sadness by the fact that some of my friends no longer feel safe here. But I also have been continuously inspired by the students who are speaking up, saying “enough is enough,” and addressing these issues that are immediately affecting our community and our country.

The walk-out last Wednesday in honor of the 17 staff, faculty, and students killed in the Parkland, Florida shooting was amazing. I was one of the first few people to arrive, so I had the privilege of being at the top of CFL steps to see people crawling out of every corner of campus, walking across library lawn and Bentdahl Commons singing “Bambalela.” It was a moment I’ll never forget; I definitely shed a tear or two. I even Skyped my mom to tell her about it and she said she got chills.

Isn’t it sad that we can’t have a unifying and peaceful moment like this without people finding some reason to be upset about it? In the days following the national walk-out, I saw a plethora of posts on social media advocating for the concept of “walk up, not out.” These posts came from mostly privileged and white people, I might add. The idea of “walk up, not out” says that students shouldn’t walk out of their classrooms to protest gun violence but rather spend that time walking up to that student who is being bullied and be kind to them. Essentially, walk up to the student that you think is most likely to be the next school shooter to avoid a shooting happening in your school.

This is problematic for many reasons. Firstly, it is victim blaming. It is saying that it is the students’ fault who got shot because they weren’t kind enough to the shooter. That is completely unfair. I saw a tweet recently from one of the students who survived the Parkland shooting that said, “Students like Helena Ramsay would never bully someone. But she died because of him.” The victims of this shooting were incredible kids who should have gone on to do incredible things. In no way is it their fault that they were killed on Feb. 14.

I also saw a very interesting post on Facebook from someone who was bullied throughout her childhood. She said that if someone walked up to her on this day and in this manner, she would have felt very uncomfortable. She said it would have felt like an obligation and that this student didn’t really want to be her friend. Additionally, this movement could be very dangerous in the way that it assumes all quiet kids in the corner are brainstorming their next potential mass murder. In reality, some people are just introverted.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge that walking up is definitely just as important as walking out. This, I think, is within the same realm of “All Lives Matter.” No one who advocates for Black Lives Matter is going to deny that all lives matter; in fact, that’s the entire purpose of the movement. But countering the efforts of Black Lives Matter by saying all lives matter defeats its purpose. No one who was at the walk-out at Luther last week — or anywhere across the country, for that matter — will deny that spreading kindness across this campus is important and something of which we need to do more.

But ultimately, this issue is so much bigger than that. Students last week were advocating for stricter gun control laws because the truth is that if Nikolas Cruz didn’t have access to an AR-15, he wouldn’t have been able to murder that many people.

But this isn’t an op-ed about gun control — you can look up my last one if you want to find my opinions on that. This is an op-ed about the importance of letting students advocate for what they are passionate about. I am grateful for President Carlson, the Luther faculty, and the organizations that put together the walk-out last week for fostering a campus that is so supportive of letting us advocate for what we believe in. Thank you for your thoughtfulness. I would merely like to caution everyone about what they truly mean when they support the concept of “walk up, not out.”

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