“I’m very proud of our school for stepping up and saying, yeah, they won’t look at anyone differently for a belief they have,” UNC first-year Vahagn Giulumian said. “We’re protected by the Constitution — we have the right to assemble. As we are a public school, I feel like we should uphold that.”
Giulumian is currently working with a team of other students to plan a 17 minute walk-out on UNC’s campus with one minute to honor each victim of the shooting. Last week, UNC students gathered in front of Wilson Library to protest gun violence.
“Our generation — the high schoolers, the college students, even the middle schoolers — is going to be the one to make these changes,” Giulumian said. “The students who died due to something as vile in nature as this deserved better. It has to stop.”
Meanwhile, over 2,000 students walked out of Green Hope High School in Cary Wednesday. Although Wake County previously announced students will not be punished for participating in a peaceful walk-out, students were still aware of potential repercussions.
“It was definitely stressful not knowing whether some of these schools were going to look at this in a positive way” said Ryan Kemper, a senior at Green Hope who helped organize the walk-out to support two fellow students who previously attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. “Seeing that positive ramification from these universities saying that they support kids doing this and that there won’t be any consequences for those who have worked to gain admission to the University — that was great.”
Both UNC and Green Hope students stressed the importance of being in an environment where standing up for your beliefs is supported and encouraged. For Green Hope students, it was a factor in choosing which college to attend next fall.
“You don’t want to have your voice muffled by those in charge of you,” Kemper said. “You want people to allow you to use your space to express your political opinions.”
With more and more protests and walk-outs being announced every day, including a national march on Washington scheduled for one month after the shooting, students show no signs of lessening the pressure on Congress to enact stricter gun control.
“This shooting did not just affect the Parkland students. It affected our generation and it’s going to affect our kids,” said UNC first-year Jordy Ascencio. “The students that are protesting right now are helping change the future.”
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