August 20, 2019 | 81° F

EDITORIAL: Walkout, 'walk up' are both positive

Students should always feel safe, welcome at school


Last Wednesday, students across the country took part in the national walkout in symbolic support of stricter gun laws. Naturally and reasonably, some people disagreed with the walkout for varying reasons. Instead of a walkout, some suggested, students should take part in a "walk up." Instead of a protest, the idea is that students would go up to kids who seem left out or alone and do something nice for them to make them feel welcome. In many respects, this is a good and necessary idea which should happen more often — but it is questionable with regard to the purpose at hand, which is to help solve the issue of gun violence in schools. Truthfully, neither demonstration will likely have a significant or direct impact on the issue.

The response from the opposing end of the "walk up" idea was that telling kids that they need to actively be kind to the kid that seems alone is, in a sense, a form of victim-blaming. In other words, it almost implies that the violence exhibited in schools like Marjory Stoneman Douglas was somehow the fault of all the students who did not welcome the perpetrator with open arms and kindness for all those years before the incident. This is not necessarily an unreasonable thought either — but will it help curb the school shooting issue? As of yet, the full conscious motive of the Parkland shooter to commit the atrocity that he did is unknown. Additionally, there seems to be no real evidence that any school shooter committed the act for the sole reason that they felt unwelcome or unaccepted in school. With that said, there is always more room for compassion in society, whether it will help solve the problem or not.

What is troubling from an outside perspective, though, is the seeming need for a constant fight between these opposing sides on this issue. Maybe a "walk up" to some is perceived as a form of victim blaming, but that is by no means necessarily the reality of the case. Why shouldn't we make school a place where all students feel welcome and safe in any way we can? If students feel safe and welcome in school, how is that a bad thing? It may be the case that if the shooter in Parkland had experienced more kindness from his classmates, then he wouldn’t have committed the atrocity — but all students should have a comfortable environment in school no matter what. 

With regard to the idea that there is a need for more compassion in school among peers, the promotion of the walk up may actually help bolster the argument for the implementation of “safe spaces” on college campuses, which many people in this nation vehemently oppose. A safe space would act as a place where all are welcome and accepted, and maybe for people who are going through tough times to seek comfort from peers. In that sense, nobody who promotes the walk up should necessarily oppose safe spaces for students. Additionally, if more compassion at schools does happen to correlate with less violence — which there is no hard evidence for — then the values that come with safe spaces are a blatant necessity. 

Neither the walkout or the "walk up" will solve the issue of gun violence on its own. It seems obvious that a combination of changes is needed, whatever those may be. It is wholly unnecessary for people to choose between a "walk up" or a walkout — it merely shifts our focus from the real problem of the discussion, which is keeping students safe at school. 


The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 150th editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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