On Friday at 10 a.m., students will leave their lecture halls, classrooms and study tables to gather on The Oval to speak out against gun violence in America.
In conjunction with the National School Walkout movement, Ohio State’s walkout falls on the 19th anniversary of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting that left 15 dead.
The intention of the event is to provide a public venue for people to voice their thoughts and opinions on gun violence, said Brandon Wong, a first-year in political science who is helping organize the walkout.
“The whole point of this event is more to provide unity as a campus; it’s not to be divisive,” he said. “For me, it’s more creating discussion and dialogue, and understanding surrounding problems in the United States.”
Wong said he hopes students are not deterred by possibly losing attendance points for missing class in pursuit of exercising their “civic duty.”
Growing up 30 minutes from Newtown, Connecticut, where the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting occurred, Wong said he personally has seen the effects gun violence has on a community.
“Even if we can’t all agree on the solution to a problem, we can all agree that there is a problem,” he said. “College is all about the pursuit of knowledge. I think that participating in events is a really good way to expand your horizons, and that’s what we hope to do.”
Caitlin Baer, the current systems manager in the College of Arts and Sciences, also is organizing the walkout and has registered the event with the national movement to help spread the word.
While planning the upcoming walkout at Ohio State, Baer and Wong noticed they were each planning a similar event with the same goal, so they decided to join forces.
Baer was the leader of a campus walkout March 14, which fell during spring break. She said it was a small but mighty gathering of the community, where someone read the names of the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which occurred in February and help reignite the national gun debate.
She also wants to make sure people of all political affiliations feel welcome to attend the event.
“I would say that I think most people on this campus identify more as liberal, or they lean more towards the liberal side, but this transcends that,” she said. “It’s not a liberal or conservative issue. People are dying, that’s a really big deal.
“Even if it has not directly affected you, this is an issue that is affecting our brothers and sisters around the country. Please stand in solidarity with them to show them that they are not alone.”