Seton Hall students will participate in the March for Our Lives on Saturday, March 24 in New York City. The Student Government Association (SGA) is helping mobilize students to attend.
March for Our Lives is a nationwide protest against gun violence. According to the March for Our Lives website, participants “will take to the streets to demand that their lives and safety become a priority, and that we end gun violence in our schools and communities.”
The main march will take place in Washington, D.C., while sister marches, such as the one in New York City, will occur across the country, according to the website.
Darby DeBonis, a sophomore nursing major with a second major in philosophy, is a SGA senator for the College of Nursing and an ad-hoc senator for the Public Relations Committee. She is heading the SGA March for Our Lives Committee.
She said via email that Dean Karen Van Norman came to SGA to see if they wanted to organize to do something on March 24, which DeBois said is the day the Parkland students plan to march in Washington, D.C.
“Collectively the Senate, e-board and ad-hoc senators decided that this opportunity is not one we could pass up,” DeBonis said. “It is necessary for us as students to mobilize and participate in the March for Our Lives, heading the SGA committee that is organizing our participation is just an extension of the duty of an informed student and citizen.”
Van Norman, associate vice president and dean of students, has been serving as SGA adviser.
On March 13 she sent out an email to the SHU community inviting everyone to march. She said this is “a movement that arose from the survivors of the heartbreaking” school shooting in Parkland, Fla.
The email stated that tri-state area students “will take to the streets of New York City to demand that their lives and safety become a priority and that the government reforms and betters gun regulation in our country.”
Van Norman wrote in an email that she is “impressed by the level of activism about important issues among the student body this year.”
She said, “When the date for March for Our Lives was announced, I suspected that it was something that our students would want to support so that is why I asked SGA if they would want us to move the Leadership Conference to April 21st so that they could organize a trip to the March.”
Van Norman added, “I fully support what our students and students across the country are doing for this movement. The truth is that my generation has not solved the issue of gun violence in our country, but I believe, I pray, that with the leadership of the students we can begin to see change.”
She said, “It’s been young people in the past who have helped to influence progress with the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War protests; this can be another one of those times in history.”
DeBois spoke about what inspired her to get involved with the march.
“In wake of every mass shooting that has occurred in America, it is hard to see the pain and suffering caused by gun violence, and to sit back, and say, ‘This doesn’t affect me.’ Encouraging and enabling the Seton Hall community to stand up and demand policy reform on gun control and mental health is a necessary step in making our schools and our country a safer place,” she said.
DeBois added, “It is our duty to march and honor those who have died because of senseless gun violence, and to prevent more tragedies like this from happening.”
DeBois said SGA is encouraging students to go to the march and that SGA will be “attending as active and outraged students.”
There will be poster making in the Living Room of the University Center on March 21 from 5:30 to 7 p.m., and on March 23 from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.
Students can purchase tickets for $5 for a roundtrip train ticket from South Orange train station to New York Penn Station. For more details and to purchase tickets, visit www.shu.edu/shumarchforourlives.
Violet Reed, SGA vice president and a junior English major with an environmental studies minor, has also been involved with the march.
Reed said her “personal beliefs on the place of guns in America” and her “feeling that this movement needs to be led by individuals in our age cohort” inspired her to get the SHU community involved. “Gun policies that are in place now will continue to adversely affect our generation if we do not do something,” she said.
Reed said she wants “to mobilize SHU to help reverse the violent narrative of guns in our country.”
She said SGA is spreading the word about the march and collaborating with clubs to help get students there. She added that SGA will be encouraging students to wear Pirate Blue at the march.
Aurora Arrington, a junior philosophy major, heard about the march through DeBois. Arrington is from Florida and wrote via email that she decided to go to March for Our Lives “because it is a cause that’s important to me and very close to home.”
She said she has family who attended Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. She is encouraging her friends to go to the event and said, “To me this event is a way of showing support in an accessible way.”
Arrington said “events like this are incredible and everyone should participate to support the causes they believe in.”
Rishi Shah, SGA treasurer and a sophomore majoring in finance and economics, said he decided to go to the march after he heard it was coordinated by the Parkland School shooting survivors.
“Seeing my own generation take a step to change a flawed system inspired me to join the movement,” he wrote in an email.
Shah said the event is “to fight for greater gun regulations in America” and to him “this event means having our voice heard.” He added, “As young students, we tend to be overpowered by career politicians and a very stubborn government, this could be the moment where we, as young adults, make the changes.”
Samantha Todd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.