Maura Donnelly / Gavel Media

BC Students Join National School Walkout for Gun Reform

Several dozen Boston College students walked out of class at 10 a.m. on Wednesday morning, joining students across the country in the National School Walkout calling for gun reform.

The walkout, organized by the Women’s March Youth EMPOWER, occurs one month after 17 high school students were killed in a school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. In the month since the shooting, dozens of the students who survived the shooting have engaged in activism and called for gun control reform to prevent another school shooting.

Each National School Walkout began at 10 a.m. local time zone and lasted exactly 17 minutes, with one minute in honor of each of the 17 victims of the shooting in Parkland.

According to the BC walkout's Facebook event page, the event was intended to call on Congress to take action on gun control reform.

"Congress must take meaningful action to keep us safe and pass federal gun reform legislation that addresses the public health crisis of gun violence," the event page reads. "We want Congress to pay attention and take note: many of us will vote this November!"

Quinn O'Connor, MCAS '21, coordinated the event after she heard about walkouts planned on other college campuses and realized that no one had organized one at BC. By Wednesday morning, more than 60 students had responded that they would attend and 40 others expressed interest on the Facebook event page.

"I think it's important for students to be involved because this issue is directly affecting us," said O'Connor, in a statement to The Gavel prior to the walkout. "We are not safe on campus until there is gun reform."

O'Connor also mentioned the activism of the survivors of Parkland shooting as a source of inspiration and motivation to get involved.

"The Parkland students have done an amazing job raising awareness and holding our representatives accountable for their roles in gun reform," said O'Connor. "I want to honor the courage of those students and continue their legacy."

Despite the cold and snow, several dozen students began gathering on the sidewalk between Gasson and Devlin Halls at 10 a.m. As students continued to trickle in, O'Connor called for students' attention and offered a space for students to reflect and remember the lives lost in silence.

Additionally, O'Connor offered an opportunity for students to speak up about their thoughts and concerns about gun violence.

Matthew Barad, MCAS '19, took this opportunity to call attention to the issue of institutions investing in the gun industry.

"Boston College is investing in gun companies, and they are using the money that you give them, to support companies that are making guns," said Barad.

Several papers left by an anonymous student in the O'Neill library that morning also called for ethical investment of the University endowment by divesting from the gun industry.

"Think your university cares about the victims of gun violence? Think again. #speakupbc #divest," read the pamphlet.

The papers specifically called out the University's investment in Wells Fargo, which has been a major financier of the gun industry following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, which killed 20 children and six teachers in 2012.

A portion of BC's endowment is invested in Wells Fargo, according the list of current investments by the Boston College Investment Club. The Investment Club is a student organization that manages investments of an approximately $485,000 portion of the total University endowment, which reached $2.4 billion in 2017.

Since information about which companies the University endowment is invested in is not public, it cannot be confirmed or denied that BC's endowment is invested in Wells Fargo.

"Our leadership has let us down," said O'Connor. "We can't expect anyone else to take the reins of this issue. It's up to us. And we are committed. Fierce. Strong. United. And mad as hell."

I’m a future elementary teacher who enjoys dabbling in news coverage of politics and social issues on the side.