As schools across the nation participated in National Walkout Day to protest mass shootings and promote the enforcement of stricter gun control laws, the CSUSB VOICE peers held their own walkout on the Pfau Library Lawn on March 14. This event came one month after the deadly Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, which claimed 17 victims.
The #Enough and #NeverAgain movements have inspired a call to action against gun violence, and as a means to honor the lives lost during the Valentine’s Day massacre. While high schools nationwide had 17-minute walkouts to represent each life lost during the Florida shooting, the CSUSB walkout was slightly different.
While there were photo displays to pay tribute to the Parkland victims, the CSUSB Voice Peers decided to organize a 14-minute walkout to commemorate the 14 lives taken in the San Bernardino terrorist attack on Dec. 2, 2015. This attempted bombing of the Inland Empire was, at the time, the deadliest mass shooting since the one at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012.
An estimated 200 people attended the CSUSB walkout, and the names of both the Parkland and San Bernardino shooting victims were read during the 14 minutes.
“Taking part in the walkout was pretty exhilarating,” said VOICE peer Natalie Gonzales. “I, myself, was unsure if we would have a good turnout or not since it was week 10 and during class time, and we had only begun spreading the word about it a week before. When all those people showed up, I felt a wave of emotions come over me as I was excited, touched, and nervous all at the same time.”
CSUSB VOICE is a student group that is dedicated to reducing the number of students affected by sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, and stalking through the use of prevention education.
Two poster boards were made in memory of the Florida victims and an assortment of orange hearts were used to represent the San Bernardino victims, including the two victims from the Northpark Elementary attack on April 10, 2017.
The adviser for VOICE, Marina Rodriguez, created the promotional flyer for the walkout that was posted on social media and on bulletin boards across campus. Handouts for the event were also created that contained statistics, the purpose of the event, and the names of all of the victims.
“This cause is extremely relevant to CSUSB. We lost five alumni of the 14 victims in the Dec. 2 attack, and Karen Elaine Smith of the Northpark attack was also a CSUSB alumni. We may think that something like this would never happen to any of us or someone we know, but that is not always the case,” said Gonzales.
As the issue of gun control continues to be a popular topic of conversation in the United States, regulation of firearms is an especially sensitive matter to the city of San Bernardino, with the university’s student body having been directly affected by gun violence.
“I felt that this walkout was necessary for San Bernardino and CSUSB due to the gun violence that our city has experienced in the past,” stated Gonzales. “It is a recurring event in our area, whether it’s a terrorist attack, domestic violence, gang violence, or racial profiling, and it needs to be brought to the attention of the community that it needs to stop.”
The walkout was just the beginning of the change that will hopefully be brought to our city and nation very soon.
While the VOICE peers organized the walkout in hopes of spreading awareness and honoring mass shooting victims, the student group also wishes to remind others to be vigilant in noticing the signs of domestic violence and disturbed individuals. Being alert and noticing the signs ahead of time can help prevent future attacks and even save lives.