BYU, UVU students participate in #NationalWalkoutDay

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Editor’s note: This story pairs with “Utah County high school students participate in #NationalWalkoutDay”

BYU students gathered on Brigham Square to join the #NationalWalkoutDay protest. UVU students gathered on their campus as well.

Women’s March Youth Empower called for students and others to take part in a national school walkout on March 14, 2018 at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes — one minute for each victim killed exactly one month ago at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

The purpose of the walkouts was to protest inaction in Congress in response to recent gun violence.

The Women’s March Youth Empower website reads, “We need action. Students and allies are organizing the national school walkout to demand Congress pass legislation to keep us safe from gun violence at our schools, on our streets and in our homes and places of worship.”

The protest was originally targeted at high school students; however, students at universities across the nation have joined in.

The Daily Universe talked with protestors at Brigham Square and UVU campus about why they participated and what they think needs to be done.

Ada Maynard from Heber City shared her thoughts in the video below:

BYU sophomore Kacey Sorenson said her mom teaches high school in California and was trained by police last week on how to act in a lockdown. 

“When she started teaching, the lockdown drill was like, close the blinds, hide, lock the door, and she said that its changed now — the police say you run first of all — if there is a shooter on campus you run,” Sorenson said. 

Sorenson said her mother was told she is basically responsible for protecting her students.

“I think she is a huge reason for me participating today, and I am going to the march in DC next week to participate with the students too,” Sorenson said. 

Josh Ellis
BYU history professor Rebecca de Schweinitz holds a sign during the national walkout on March 14, 2018. (Josh Ellis)

Associate professor of history Rebecca de Schweinitz said she was there to support students who are standing up for their lives and for change in America. 

“I think they are offering a very valuable perspective and voice that is helping cut through the old debates,” de Schweinitz said. “I hope that we can listen and take action to address this really important problem.”

Schweinitz has studied youth in civil rights movement and youth in politics. One thing she has found through her research on youth in the civil rights movement is young people often help to move public opinion and create support for civil rights legislation. She said even more powerful were the political actions of young people and their determination to stand up.

“Young people often bring a fresh perspective. They are able to see the issues without old rhetoric and debates getting in the way. They don’t have the same sense of ‘we can’t do this.’ They are able to envision the future in new ways,” Schweinitz said. “They’ve got really important perspectives and I hope that we can listen and move forward … it’s about time.”

BYU students and faculty members voice their opinions during the walkout in the video below:

BYU student Hailey Freeman said she is sick of feeling afraid to go to school and feeling like she has to choose between her safety and her education. 

“Honestly, I just want Congress to do something,” Freeman said. “I hope that they see these protests across the country and they decide that something has to be done.”

UVU assistant professor Ethan Sproat said he joined the protest because he wanted to express solidarity with civic-minded high schoolers across the country.

“We’re not a high school here, but gun violence is an epidemic in our country,” Sproat said. “It’s especially tragic and horrifying when young people are killed in large numbers in a single act.”

Sproat said he doubts any sort of meaningful gun regulation changes will happen here in Utah, but said he felt the need to add their small little numbers to a national voice about the epidemic of gun violence.

“We cannot become desensitized to the regular occurrence of mass shootings,” Sproat said.

Reporters: Sarah Matthews, Courtney Tietjen, Auburn Remington, Caitlyn Larsen, Sadie Anderson and Kaleena McKell.

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