The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

OPINION | We Will Not Wait for the Next School Shooting

A white ribbon in memory of the victims of the Lewiston mass shooting hangs on a sign on campus. Ribbons were distributed in bundles of 18 and will hang for 18 days to commemorate the 18 people killed on Oct. 25. Noah Skinner/The Bates Student.

Editor’s Note: The following is a student-written op-ed, signed by over 110 student leaders and meant to be published simultaneously across over 40 student newspapers. The breadth of this op-ed is national and includes public and private universities. 

The purpose of this op-ed is to create attention around gun violence and act as a demonstration of the shared concern about gun violence that exists across all college campuses. 

Please be cautious that this op-ed includes descriptions of gun violence that may be disturbing for some readers. 

Students are taught to love a country that values guns over our lives.

Many of us hear the sound of gunfire when we watch fireworks on the fourth of July. All of us have heard the siren of an active shooter drill and asked ourselves: are we next?

By painful necessity, we have grown to become much more than students learning in a classroom — we have shed every last remnant of our childhood innocence. 

Our hearts bleed from this uniquely American brand of gun violence, and yet we remind ourselves that we love our country so much that we expect better from it. 

We believe that our country has the capacity to love us back. There are bullet shaped holes in our hearts, but our spirits are unbreakable.

We will not wait for individual trauma to affect us all before we respond together — when we rediscover our empathy, we shape the moral arc of this country. 

Students in the Civil Rights Movement created the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) that organized Freedom Rides, sit-ins, and marches. In demanding freedom from racial violence, this group’s activism became woven into American history. 

Students across America organized teach-ins during the Vietnam War to expose its calculated cruelties. Their work, in demanding freedom from conscription and taxpayer-funded violence, is intertwined with the American story.

This fall, UNC Chapel Hill students’ text exchanges during the August 28th shooting reached the hands of the President. In demanding freedom from gun violence, we joined countless others before us.

Because for 360,000 of us since Columbine, the toll of succumbing to the cursed emotional vocabulary of survivorship has become our American story.

Yes, it is not fair that we must rise up against problems that we did not create, but the organizers of past student movements know from lived experience that we decide the future of the country. The country took note as Congress subsequently passed civil rights legislation, as they withdrew from the Vietnam war, and as the White House created the federal Office of Gun Violence Prevention. 

So as students and young people alike, we should know our words don’t end on this page — we will channel them into change. 

We invite you to join this generation’s community of organizers, all of us united in demanding a future free of gun violence. With our prose and protest, we protect not only our lives, but our way of life itself. 

Politicians will not have the shallow privilege of reading another front-cover op-ed by students on their knees, begging them to do their jobs. They will instead contend with the reality that by uniting with each other and among parents, educators, and communities, our demands become undeniable. Our movement is not just moving away from the unbearable pain of our yesterday — we move toward an unrelenting hope for our tomorrow.

Our generation dares politicians to look us in the eye and tell us they’re too afraid to try.

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