On Walkouts: Are they really necessary?

The National Walkout, State College Area High School. Picture taken by Mia High.

The National Walkout, State College Area High School. Picture taken by Mia High.

Enkhmaa Bilegee, Staff Writer

On Wednesday, April 5, at 12 p.m., State High students were called to participate in the national walkout to protest against gun violence in schools. The event was student organized by freshman Sarah Ocampo, senior Mia High, and junior Lilly Frank. 

“The organization was a big push to give students a voice in this epidemic of gun violence,” stated Frank. 

Here’s the question, though: are walkouts really necessary or even remotely helpful? Well, of course. Walkouts give an opportunity for students to speak their minds and freely express their opinions about gun violence in schools.

 “It was making sure to lift America out of this really scary epidemic of gun violence,” said Frank, “So the organization was a big push to give students a voice in this issue.” 

Ultimately, the walkout was a way to bring the topic of school shootings into dialogue–to address the ongoing issue.  High voiced, “We wanted it to be informational, not targeted against anyone.” 

But there is still more that can be done. Expanding on the conversations can lead to further action in finding solutions to eliminate mass shootings altogether. “We want a lot of physical action steps beyond the walkout because if all you’re doing is walking out, that’s just another form of thoughts and prayers,” Frank declared, “It’s performative at best.” 

We can push for further systemic changes within the school. That means proper healthcare settings and programs, policies addressing the risk of gun violence, and a cohesive and supportive school environment where students feel safe to open up about student struggles. 

Moreover, the US has seen a lot of issues with student mental health in the past years. Frank stated, “With the two gun suicides in the past school years, it’s incredibly important that we are able to take action through this and focus on student mental health–especially giving more time and more resources to things like the counseling office and H.O.M.E. office, which have historically been incredibly underfunded, and consistently undercut by the district.” It is undoubtedly the administration’s responsibility to provide the necessary resources for students which seem to be lacking. 

But that’s not to say students can just stand by idly. As individuals, we are to manage our own mental state as well as that of our peers. That can be through keeping tabs on others who seem to be struggling or even taking part in the help offered within the school. 

At the end of the day, it’s up to us to care for our own mental health. There is a level of responsibility that comes with autonomy. 

That is with being an agentic individual who is willing to voluntarily comply with legitimate authoritative directives. Or on the other hand, having the ability to disobey said authority and accepting the unpleasant consequences knowing that disobedience is a reasonable response. We have to create this balancing act where both the students and the administration have to work together to uphold a functioning learning environment for the peace of all of us.

The problem with gun violence is that it is a longstanding problem and it won’t go away unless we take active measures to make it go away. 

The walkouts offer a starting point. They can be used to bring the major issue of school gun violence to attention. To make use of all the hard work dedicated to the walkout, everyone needs to take direct measures resulting in lessened school gun violence.