Andres de la Lama is a student at Coronado High School and an intern at The Coronado Times. Lucia Martin is a Coronado High School student and on the staff at The Coronado Times. Immediately below is an op-ed piece that Andres wrote, and below that is a video interview that Lucia filmed, both regarding the National Walkout on March 14.
By Andres de la Lama
Last Wednesday, Coronado High School students took part in the National School Walkout to protest gun violence. Initially, this movement was intended to do two things: to honor the lives of the 17 teens killed during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and to call for reform of gun laws and policies. Due to recent school shootings, this would seem like an appropriate opportunity for students across the nation to unite under one cause, but this opportunity seemed to have brought out many reactions from students. Some joined the large group that headed to Orange Avenue, carrying signs and chanting against current gun policies. Others stayed on campus and collected themselves in small groups to share a moment of silence for the victims in Parkland. And others stayed in their classrooms—technically abiding by school rules.
For one thing, the so-called “epidemic” of school shootings may not be as contagious as we have perceived it. While any instance of gun violence in an educational institution is a horrifying and unacceptable incident, statisticians and researchers at Northeastern University have found that school shootings are not more common now than they were in the 1990s. In fact, studies have shown that there is a decreasing trend in the commonality of these incidents. For more information regarding these statistics, click here.
What do these statistics say about how we receive news today?
Undeniably, the media has found ways to subtly present news with certain biases. Liberal news stations tend to fuel discussion of gun violence and present the news accordingly, while more conservative stations might deviate from painting this narrative. But the problem is not whether you are watching a left-wing or right-wing news channel. It is how we digest the news that matters. News stations may broadcast convincing and compelling events to lean the viewer in one direction, and the First Amendment guarantees the press this exact freedom, as long as their news is not falsified or slanderous. Therefore, viewers today have been given the immense responsibility of questioning the reliability and objectivity of their sources of information. In a world where anyone has the ability to publish information on an internet database, this has become increasingly difficult.
These newscasts have fueled enough discussion to unify the youth in fighting for their safety in school. Consequently, students took it upon themselves to loosely plan and advertise this event and hope for the best turnout. And since peers encourage each other to participate in an event because it is “cool,” the action of walking out of school loses its efficacy. Students have lost unity in their cause.
The moment students walk off campus, teachers must mark them truant. This necessary precaution absolves the school of responsibility for the safety of their students. What kind of message is this sending?
In breaking district rules to protest gun violence, there is a dividing line that students are drawing with the school. Students are no longer confiding in the school to protect them. At a time when the “epidemic” is worse than ever, faculty and administrators have tried to appease the concerns of safety by conducting drills and offering counseling support. This, however, is not enough for students, so they must protest during school hours to “have their voices heard.” While the intention of calling for reform is valid and needed, there was a lack of unification and organization of the event. Instead of trying to work with administrators to achieve a more effective outcome, participants simply joined a crowd and chanted, while others remained on campus.
Students may be trying to protest the National Rifle Association (NRA) or the Second Amendment, but by walking off campus during school hours, they have made the national movement about something else. They have made it a rebellious act. They have drawn more attention to the fact that they are breaking school rules to protest instead of what they are actually protesting: gun violence.
In order for change, there must be a cause. In order for a cause, there must be unification under that cause. The fact that students were able to raise awareness in their community and speak up about an issue shows that they are concerned about their future, which is much needed at a time like this when gun violence in schools has not stopped. But the fact that the media has the ability to present the news with bias, they can most certainly find ways to undercut these students’ intentions, and this time, the media had them on breaking school rules. Perhaps we ought to think more about how our actions are seen as opposed to blindly following a cause.
By Lucia Martin
On March 14th, students from all around the United States participated in a National School Walkout, calling on Congress to take action to prevent future school shootings. Coronado Times had the pleasure of speaking with Savannah Rose, a junior at CHS and the organizer of the 10am walkout and march down Orange Avenue.