March For Our Lives stands up against gun violence

Tiffani Smith, News Editor

Now Is The Time event commemorates 438 school gun violence victims with balloons.

March For Our Lives, a peaceful protest regarding gun policies and the rampant school shootings throughout the U.S., will be taking place Saturday, March 24 at 10 a.m. in downtown Corvallis. The event is dedicated to uniting students across the nation as one collective voice to take a stance on the issue.

Grace Knutsen, a junior at Corvallis High School and the primary coordinator for March For Our Lives – Corvallis, is leading a group of individuals in spearheading the local march. Through doing so, she has brought on a group of student volunteers who are passionate about the event.

“The primary goal of March For Our Lives – Corvallis is to demand that our lives and our safety become a priority, and that we end gun violence and mass shootings on school grounds,” Knutsen said in an email.

The Associated Students of Oregon State University assisted in promoting March For Our Lives through their event Now Is The Time this past Wednesday, Makenna Elias, an ASOSU Senator, said. At Wednesday’s event, ASOSU passed out flyers and provided materials for individuals to make posters for participating in the upcoming march.

“ASOSU will also be tabling at the march itself with a social media station for people to write on whiteboards: #WhyIMarch, or similar hashtags, that they can then post on social media,” Elias said in an email. “ASOSU will also be working at a table where people can write to their legislators about what they believe the best response is for the government to take in order to stop school shootings/gun violence. These letters will then be sent to the legislators in orange envelopes, the color of gun safety.”

Gun violence has always been an issue in this country, Elias said, but the topic is beginning to gain more attention nationally due to recent school shootings.

“It is so important to create a conversation about gun violence in schools because it affects us all,” Elias said in an email. “Students are scared to come to class because they fear they will get shot. When an issue affects students so personally, there is a need for that conversation to happen.”

Ryan Khalife, an ASOSU senator, said gun violence, especially on school campuses, has gone unaddressed for too long.

“From the shooting at (Umpqua Community College) a couple years back, to the shooting threat that arose a couple weeks ago, this is an issue that hits close to home for many,” Khalife said in an email. “At this moment in time when many people are talking about this issue, we (ASOSU) wanted to start the conversation at OSU.”

With a large number of people talking about the topic of gun violence recently, ASOSU wanted to help provide a platform to discuss the topic further, Khalife said.

ASOSU wanted to begin the help provide a platform to discuss the topic of gun violence, especially with a large number of people talking about it recently, Khalife said.

“ASOSU was not necessarily taking a political stance on the issue, because the organization did not endorse any specific measure,” Khalife said in an email. “The stance taken was that change needs to happen, and that students have the ability to be a part of this change.”

Knutsen believes it is up to her generation to create change regarding gun legislation. By working together, Knutsen said that common-sense gun legislation can be developed to prevent further school gun violence.

“Conversation, or opportunities for conversation, isn’t enough,” Knutsen said in an email. “March For Our Lives encourages action, and demands that our legislators become responsible for their constituents, and that, as students, we are provided the safe educational environment we deserve.”

Schools are places of education, and such education should not be confined only to the classroom, Khalife said.

“When there are pressing issues present in society, it is important for students and faculty to educate themselves on these issues and become involved,” Khalife said in an email. “The more we discuss and research an issue, the better prepared we are to respond productively.”

March For Our Lives is not only taking place in Corvallis, Knutsen said. Organizers are creating their own local sibling marches around the nation and are taking a stance against gun violence.

“It’s been humbling to see the support we’ve received for our local event,” Knutsen said in an email. “I’ve been contracted by march organizers from several countries, with words of encouragement and support for our movement.”

Elias hopes the event will bring people together, united by one common goal—stopping gun violence. Elias said this event is just the beginning, and she wants to see participants coming out of the event wanting to engage in the issue more in order to make a difference.

“I encourage as many folks to participate in this event as they can because of how important the subject matter is. Gun violence affects us all—and that is the problem we are here to address,” Elias said in an email. “In order to do this, we must start having these hard conversations and find ways to come together. Only then can we turn a page in the dark chapter of gun violence in America.”

In addition to March For Our Lives – Corvallis on Saturday 24, a community poster-making activity will be held on Friday, March 23 from 5-7 p.m. at First Christian Church located at 602 SW Madison Ave. At this event, people are able to hand-make signs to use while participating in the march.

“The timing of the march happens to be on an unfortunate date for OSU students as it is the Saturday at the end of finals week,” Elias said in an email.” However, it is a national march that will be taking place at locations all over the country, so I still highly encourage students to attend one near their home if they will not be in Corvallis on the 24.”

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