Lane Community College students walked out of class at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 14 as part of a national movement to mourn the victims of the Parkland school shooting last month and call for gun restrictions.
More than 50 students gathered in Bristow Square, where many bowed their heads and closed their eyes for 17 minutes of silence to commemorate the 17 students slain a month before in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. A handful of faculty and staff joined them, including LCC President Margaret Hamilton.
Alexis Ramirez, a political science major at LCC, said the walkout and silent demonstration, “makes a statement that we want to feel safe in our schools.”
Women’s March Youth Empower, a national organization whose website describes itself as student-led, issued the initial call for students to walk out of class. The group’s website offered ideas, but no directives, on what students across the United States could do during the 17 minutes.
Kristine Borg, a pre-med major, was pleased to discover she was not the only student at Lane to answer the call to action.
“I’m really grateful for my peers here,” Borg said after the silence ended.
Borg did not claim to have organized the LCC walkout, but she was the only person to speak afterward, urging everyone to vote, whatever their views, on how to best prevent mass shootings.
“If people think I’m out here and I’m crazy, I’d rather they go in and vote about it than just sit at home and think about it,” Borg said.
Borg, who had never participated in any prior demonstrations, walked out of a psychology class.
“I love all my instructors here, so it’s always hard to be like, ‘I really respect you but I have something to do,’” Borg said.
Borg did not think her professor, who discussed the walkout before class started, would penalize her.
“I think he has a pretty balanced perspective, so he understands,” Borg said. “I think in general Lane is good about that.”
“I believe in the efforts to end or reduce violence in schools and I am very proud of our students for having the courage to take a stand in a peaceful manner,” President Hamilton wrote in an email response to The Torch.
Hamilton also denied organizing the demonstration. “This day belonged to the students,” she wrote.