Over 400 students at UC San Diego participated in a nationwide walkout against gun violence on Wednesday at the Silent Tree in front of Geisel Library.
Students from across the country organized walkouts on their respective campuses at 10:00 a.m. in solidarity with Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and to honor the 17 victims who were killed a month ago by 19-year-old shooter Nikolas Cruz.
Eden Allegretti, a first year Marshall College student, and Emma Potter, a candidate for Associated Students Campus Wide Senator, organized the “UCSD Walkout for Gun Violence Prevention” event with help from Moms Demand Action, the Brady Campaign, and Alliance San Diego.
“My sister’s past partner has had three domestic violence charges and still has access to guns,” Potter said to the crowd. “Without policy that protects people from gun violence, lives will be lost.”
Those in attendance stood around the Silent Tree and listened to guest speakers who shared personal stories and calls to action to demand gun legislation that ends gun violence. Behind the speakers was a sign relaying statistics of gun violence stating that 35,141 people will die from gun violence every year. A few students held signs that read “#NeverAgain,” “No More Silence, End Gun Violence,” and “No Guns In Our School, Keep Our Kids Safe, Ban Assault Rifles.”
Potter was followed by Wendy Wheatcroft, the San Diego leader of Moms Demand Action and a co-founder of San Diegans for Gun Violence Prevention. Wheatcroft believes that the tragedies of gun violence, “new to this generation,” are a result of “evil born from greed” that puts profit over people. Wheatcroft said that enough is enough, that safety matters, and that students are the ones who can deliver change.
“These greedy people are only for themselves and we the people, have been taught to fear each other,” Wheatcroft said. “When they tell you to fear each other, love each other. Your courage has helped many adults find their courage and we are all going to follow you and fight beside you until every single one of us is free because guns are not freedom.”
Shelby Booker, a senior and Sociology major at the University of San Diego, spoke to those in attendance about her two personal encounters with gun violence, both occurring during her time in school. According to Booker, the first incidence occurred when a man committed suicide in front of her elementary school while she was in fifth grade. The second happened when a teacher who was fired shot her high school principal, then killed himself, when she was in ninth grade.
“The truth is more people than you know have been affected by gun violence,” Booker said. “Use your voice and your vote to make the change you wish to see in the world. Never again shall we fear for our lives.”
Also at the walkout was Sara Jacobs, a Democratic candidate running for the 49th Congressional District, which partially encompasses UCSD.
“I really do believe that the conversation around gun violence prevention has fundamentally changed with how these activist have been speaking about it,” Jacobs said. “I think it’s moving it away from what gun rights are and talking about the safety of our children. Change has really happened when young people have gotten involved.”
Marshall first year Eli Marx-Kahn believes that students at UCSD and across the nation are participating in an important movement that will get politicians to enact the change the youth wants to see for their America.
“I think that there’s strength in numbers and to have a few hundred, not only here, but in dozens of places across the country, I think is quite powerful,” Marx-Kahn said. “If politicians start seeing that the majority of their constituents are against what they’re doing, that’s going to be a catalyst for change.”
Matthew Rom-Toribio is a staff writer at The Triton.