To the editor:
I am a member of the student group who organized the walkout at Voorhees High School on March 14 in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Credit was given to the administration of our school for organizing the event while our student group organized and executed the event. Two weeks before the event I sat down with a friend and the administration to discuss the event. We stated that we planned on walking out to support the students from Parkland and the legislation they were calling for. We wanted to know if we would be supported by the school in doing so.
Although they were originally supportive, they later made it difficult for our message to be heard and continually censored what they determined to be political. They did not want it to be divisive and cause more protests and walkouts in the future. Unfortunately for them our topic is inherently political, it is about common sense federal gun legislation, and we are determined that it gets heard. We support the message of the Parkland school students who are calling for Congress to: ban assault rifles and high capacity magazines, expand background checks to all gun sales, pass the federal gun violence restraining order law, fund government research on gun violence, and promote safe storage. These are the issues we had in mind when starting to plan but were not able to state publicly during the walkout or in our email to the school due to censorship by administration. We were constantly pushed to walk a fine line between explicit and implied. I write this not only to share my opinion, but to explain our difficulties in organizing the walkout on our terms.
Although we encountered particular difficulty disseminating our message at school we still want to ensure that it is heard by a wider community. I recognize that I am incredibly privileged to live in an area where I do not have to deal with gun violence on a daily basis yet I am concerned for the many kids living in urban areas where this is a scary reality. This is bigger than Hunterdon County or New Jersey and the only way for change to occur is for us to be persistent in making our voices heard.
Annalise Rodgers, Califon