Opinion, Staff Editorial

Students, keep up the commotion post-Parkland

Heat. Midterm burnout. The slow approach of spring break. There are endless reasons for students to get lazy this time of year, and one big reason for them not to.

The Stoneman Douglas high school shooting was the wake-up call we never wanted: Proof that hope alone just won’t cut it when it comes to preventing mass tragedies.

It’s time for real, actionable change – and as the survivors demand “never again,” we should, too.

Many are already leading the charge. Hundreds rallied outside the Federal Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale demanding improved gun control. Among them were the very students who just saw their school make the worst kind of history.

At the collegiate level, students from Florida State University and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University joined in the demonstration by marching at the Capitol.

The University of Miami has its own march planned, too. Set to take place at 11 a.m. Feb. 28, the Canes Care for Eagles March will give students a chance to rally for an end to gun violence, the likes of which just landed heart-wrenchingly close to home.

It’s worth noting, of course, that not every form of activism looks the same. The word usually connotes loud chants and picket signs (and the Canes March ought to feature plenty of both), but it also comes in other, quieter forms.

When sophomore Ally Rosenberg spoke at the Feb. 20 vigil for the victims, she not only honored her slain cousin, Alex Schachter, but legitimized a movement that would work to ensure his death was not in vain.

The event was a communal catharsis. But with a banner and letters to sign on hand, and calls like Rosenberg’s to “write a letter” or “join a protest,” it was practical, too.

In this form of activism, the same message pervades: A change must be made, and it’s on us to make it.

Already, the tragedy is stirring up national attention that’s outlasted those all-too-familiar first days of mourning – thoughts and prayers. It’s a testament to the fortitude of those Stoneman Douglas students and the movement they were forced to start.

But how do we keep it up?

Attention is a commodity. Capitalize on it. Never underestimate the ability of a tweet, video, essay or picket sign to garner the attention of the right people. Even if it doesn’t cause an immediate change in policy, you never know how your words might sway an undecided voter on Election Day. At the very least, they keep the conversation going, preventing the issue from fading with the last news cycle.

Don’t forget to look to your peers, too. Your own activism might just inspire them to register to vote. Three percent more college students voted in 2016 than in 2012, amounting to 48.3 percent, according to Tufts University. If that bump was the product of increased activism on college campuses, your work now can potentially improve turnout even further. As is, less than half of us are voting in elections, so it’s worth a try.

Some issues offer room for flexibility, for back-burner talk. This is not one of them. This time around, we can’t afford to be lazy – not when our officials, however reluctantly, are listening.

So stick to your protests, your letters, tweets and phone calls. And if you’re suspended, lambasted or called a crisis actor in the process, you’re probably on the right track.

Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.

February 26, 2018

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