Elon students, faculty and staff joined schools across the nation and stood in silence as part of the National School Walkout.
The event was organized in response to the Feb.14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida that left 17 people dead. Since the shooting, a national outcry among students has started a wave of activism lobbying for more gun control. Marches in prominent cities, such as Washington, D.C., are planned for March 24.
These National School Walkouts were planned for 10 a.m. across the nation, and silence was held for 17 minutes in remembrance of the 17 individuals who lost their lives just a month ago.
Elon students Sarah Jane McDonald, Jordan Levine, Micalah Collins and Scottlyn Goodman decided to get Elon involved in this national stance, after feeling impacted by the mass shooting, and created a social media campaign called #ElonWalkout.
The event was held in front of the Alamance Building. Students, faculty and staff were all in attendance, standing in solidarity with each other.
The event organizers read the names of each victim of the Parkland shooting, as well as the most recent victim of gun violence, a student named Courtlin Arrington from Birmingham, Alabama.
Beginning at 10 a.m., each victim’s name was read, followed by a brief description of his or her future aspirations, and then ended with a minute of silence.
While listening to these names being read by event organizers, some members of the #ElonWalkout held hands, cried, hugged their friends or just stood in complete silence.
Freshman Scottlyn Goodman, one of the event organizers, is from Davie, Florida, another town in Broward County that is about 30 minutes away from Parkland.
“I knew people affected, family friends, people who were killed, and being far away was hard," Goodman said. "Seeing my friends from other schools be able to do something on their college campus was motivating me to do something on ours.”
When first hearing the news of the shooting from a friend, and then seeing it for herself on national television in her dorm room, Goodman says she was glued to the television and couldn’t move, just waiting to hear more victims names be released.
“It was surreal. I just wanted to go home," she said. "I’ve been wanting to go home ever since and hug my family and friends.”
While Goodman wants to be with her family and friends affected by the tragedy back in Florida, she knew today was the time to do something at Elon, since she now considers this campus her home.
“I needed to do something that made me feel comfortable here and make everyone else feel comfortable,” Goodman said.
Goodman was concerned about the turn-out of the event but was pleased by the number of people who showed up. She said she is proud to be a student at Elon today.
“I was very nervous that we wouldn't have enough people and I really just wanted 17 people to show up to represent every single victim," Goodman said. "The fact that we got so many people come was just something that I never thought would happen at a school that is in the middle of one of the most conservative places I have ever been in.”
One of the other event organizers, junior Micalah Collins, said that she hopes that students continue to make a change and that conversations surrounding gun violence don't stop today.
“We don’t want this to be a one-and-done kind of thing," Collins said. "We want students to be involved and feel like they have a stake in the issue.”
#ElonWalkout organizers are currently in the process of planning an open forum on campus, which will be held in April, in order to spark conversation and discussion on campus about how to best prevent gun violence from affecting more communities.