Perhaps four hundred Santa Clara University (SCU) students, professors and staff gathered around the old rugged cross in front of Mission Santa Clara on the Jesuit university campus at 10 a.m. March 14, exactly one month after 17 students and faculty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, were shot to death by a 19-year-old former student.
The SCU students were part of a nation-wide student walkout from classes to remember the lives lost to gun violence and call political attention to student demands to make schools safer by passing and enforcing stricter gun regulations in the U.S.
Jesuit Novice Tony Cortese, who works with Campus Ministry, asked the crowd to stand in silence, close their eyes and imagine holding as close to their hearts as possible those shot in the Feb. 14 mass killing, while he slowly read the name and age of each person.
“Sometimes it seems meaningless to give thoughts and prayers. I agree, it often is…if it does not involve some sort of action,” said Cortese. “Enough is enough. I invite you to walk in a way totally committed to end gun violence.”
After remarks at the foot of the tall, wooden cross, everyone walked slowly around the campus, chanting, “Never again! Never again!”
“National student movements have the power to make real change,” said SCU senior Marisa Rudolph from Colorado, department coordinator for the Santa Clara Community Action Program (SCCAP), which organized the campus walkout.
After the walkout, the SCCAP encouraged students to join them in writing letters to congress members, research how much money their own congress members accept from the NRA, and attend the March for Our Lives in San Francisco or elsewhere on March 24.
“Talking to friends who don’t agree with gun restrictions is one of the most influential things I as a college student can do,” said SCU junior David Traver from San Mateo. “This [student movement] is going to change a lot.”
“I feel empowered today,” said SCU sophomore Maggie Oys from Davis. “It meant a lot that there were a couple hundred students that showed up. It’s nice to know that the movement spread from Parkland to Santa Clara to all the way around the world. It’s empowering and encouraging.”