After EMPOWER, the youth branch of the Women’s March, called for students, teachers, and allies to walk out of the classroom at 10 a.m. on March 14 to show support for the victims of the recent Florida high school shooting, some EC faculty invited students and staff to participate in a walkout and rally here on campus.
An organized walkout sounds like an oxymoron. Is this yet another circle-jerk to make ourselves feel like we’re part of the solution or a genuine call to get together and come up with a plan to elicit real change?
EC’s walkout comes complete with an itinerary of opening remarks by student leaders, the naming of the 17 victims, a short prayer from the Chaplain, and 11 minutes of congressional demands by the community.
This is a good first step towards activism on EC’s part, but organizing a walkout negates its very purpose. The impact of leaving a deafening silence within the walls of ordinarily bustling classrooms completely dissipates and the intended sentiments of anger and disappointment remain unexpressed.
One point of coordinating walkouts across the country is to be supportive and remember lives lost, yes, which seems to be the motivation of EC’s walkout. But the main point is supposed to be an expression of the disgust the youth have toward the blasé manner with which their safety is being ignored by the very adults who promise to protect them.
They are begging every American voter to vote for their right to come home alive at the end of the day and we need to vote for our own while we’re at it.
Students should not have to feel uncomfortable and unsafe in an academic setting that they are obligated to attend by law. On that same note, arming underpaid teachers with the expectation that they will take on the role of vigilante while simultaneously raising our next generation is preposterous.
Enough is enough and when EC faculty took it upon themselves to organize this, no doubt, well-intentioned walkout, they took the voices from the EC student body as all too often happens when the “adults” assume they speak for everyone.
The significance of a student-led walkout was missed entirely as students should have been trusted to create their own plan. Put into terms maybe the “adults” can appreciate: “times they are a-changin’.” Perhaps organizing a separate discussion for another time would have been more appropriate.
The EC campus is an aberration tucked away in a well-defined suburban dreamland where people go to the farmer’s market every Wednesday and ding their bike bells while waving as they pass each other by. The nearby high school resembles an idyllic college campus and the quaint downtown area looks like it was plucked right out of a movie studio. The point is, we cannot become complacent in our own comfort.
So, after you are all done singing Kumbaya and patting each other on the back for being one step above a keyboard warrior, remember you have not actually helped anyone yet. Do not let this walkout be the only part you play in making change happen.
Mike Quigley is Illinois’ fifth district and Elmhurst’s congressional representative who backs common sense gun laws, but right next door is Peter Roskam. Roskam is Illinois’ sixth district and most of Dupage County’s congressional representative who supports gun rights and is endorsed by the NRA. Rent a couple of buses and organize a march to Roskam’s office.
Hiding on campus and in your homes is unacceptable. If you are one of the many capable, young people who chooses not to vote, we implore you to become more active. With the information available on the internet, there is no excuse for being uninformed.
If you choose not to vote because you think there is no one to vote for, maybe you should consider running for office someday.
Peter Roskam has two district offices. The West Chicago District Office at 2700 International Drive Suite 304 West Chicago, Il 60185 – Phone: (630) 232-0006 and the Barrington Satellite Office at 200 South Hough Street second floor Barrington, Il 60010 – Phone (630) 232-0006.
Knock on his door, call him up, send him a letter, it doesn’t matter which - just do something. Make some noise that matters. We are calling on the student body to be part of the solution; to be inspired by the teenagers of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to go out and shake things up for the better.