More than 30 students, faculty and community residents participated in the “Enough: National School Walkout” Wednesday morning.
The crowd gathered at the Bell Tower at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes to remember the 17 victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting and to protest gun violence in schools.
The walkout took place exactly one month after the Parkland school shooting where a former student killed 17 students and faculty on Feb. 14. It is one of the deadliest school shootings since the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 20 children and six adults dead.
Philadelphia Students Demand Action, a Philadelphia-based grassroots organization created after the Parkland school shooting, organized the walkout at Temple.
Philadelphia high school students also participated in the national walkout, which was organized by the Women’s March Youth Empower to protest Congress’ inaction toward gun control reform, according to its website.
3,100 schools said its students and faculty would participate in the walkout on Wednesday, NBC reported.
“We are here today to bring awareness to the fact that everyday lives are lost to gun violence, and that it’s time for us to do something,” said Christen Rexing, a professor in the College of Public Health. “We want to ride the momentum that the students started in Florida and make it a Pennsylvania issue and a national issue.”
Temple’s Harrisburg Campus announced on Twitter that it would be “symbolically closed” from 10 a.m. to 10:17 a.m. to recognize those participating in Wednesday’s protest.
Temple Harrisburg will be symbolically closed on March 14 10:00am to 10:17am in recognition of the National School Walkout Against Gun Violence.— Temple Harrisburg (@Temple_HBG) March 13, 2018
Earlier this month, Temple announced that prospective students’ participation in peaceful protests, like the national walkout, will not affect their admission to the university. Some high school students faced disciplinary action if they chose to participate in these protests.
Students, faculty, and community residents expressed their concerns with the national government’s response to school shootings and gun control.
“By participating in the walkout, this is the first thing we can do to making a change with gun control,” said Gaby Combs, a junior public health major. “It’s ridiculous, and to see the government not do anything, they’re complacent and have blood on their hands.”
Keith Wert, a former New Jersey teacher and resident of Gloucester County, New Jersey, drove to Temple from his home to show his support.
“I hope that this is the beginning of a movement,” Wert said. “As a father, I could never imagine my kids being in a situation like the [Parkland] shooting.”
“I feel very strongly about this,” he added. “I’m here to support these kids, and put the pressure on people to do something about this. I hope the young people, with all their energy, keep at it and keep pushing because this is just ridiculous to the point of being absurd.”
Peter Ditzler, a freshman film and media arts major, said he hopes the government can start introducing legislation to increase background checks and implement age restrictions for buying semiautomatic rifles like an AR-15 rifle, which was used by the gunman in Parkland.
“I’m here to take action against the epidemic of gun violence in this country,” Ditzler said. “Everytime I see a headline about a mass shooting, it breaks my heart, especially when it comes down to school kids, like the Sandy Hook shooting.”