Hundreds of UO students and faculty left their classrooms at 10 a.m. to gather on the EMU lawn during Wednesday’s National School Walkout — a national effort to demand stricter gun regulation after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
UO College Democrats and Students Demand Action organized the walkout, during which participants remained silent for 17 minutes in honor of the 17 victims.
The only noise during the walkout was music behind a residence hall: the song “God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys.
UO sophomore Hannah Argento-McCurdy, president of both UO College Democrats and Students Demand Action, said she was surprised to see so many protestors.
“People showed up because it’s no longer an existential threat. It’s very real,” she said.
Some groups were not in support of the walkout. UO College Republicans stated that it is not in support of stricter gun regulation, but that they “fully sympathize with the victims.”
Young Americans for Liberty at the UO stated that it does not support gun regulation either, but that it is “open to having a conversation on gun control and school violence.” YAL participated in the walkout along with Turning Point USA and UO College Republicans.
“We’re all on the same side here,” YAL President Alison Watkins said, adding that YAL wants to reach out to as many people as possible during the walkout. YAL had posted that it would be “counter-protesting” today’s event, but Watkins said that the post was not accurate and did not align with their plans for the event.
“This week we hope to reach across the divide and represent students who do not see further firearm legislation as the answer. We invite all participants to join us in seeking rational solutions through civil dialogue,” a post on YAL’s Facebook page stated.
UO Provost Jayanth Banavar stated in an email to UO instructors that students who participate in the walkout today who are not disruptive will not be charged with student conduct code violations, as reported by the Emerald.
UO College Democrats asked students to “respectfully and silently” return to their classrooms after the demonstration.