UNCW students walk out of class in solidarity with Parkland protest


Travis Stoker | The Seahawk

Faculty, staff and students were present at the walkout.

Casey McAnarney, Editor-in-Chief

Students all across the country walked out of classes Wednesday, Mar. 14, in solidarity with the students of Parkland, FL school Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. UNC Wilmington was no exception.

Congregating on the Clocktower Commons in front of Randall Library at 10 a.m. and stood in silence for 17 minutes. Each minute symbolized the 17 students who were killed during the school shooting and, at the end of this period of silence, the Clocktower tolled 17 times.

Freshman Jacobi Lloyd participated in the walkout to not only pay respect to those lives lost; gun violence is close subject for him.

“Gun violence, not just with schools but in general, has a special place in my heart,” Lloyd said. “I got a good friend named Greg that we lost to gun violence two years ago, and ever since then any type of gun violence, I feel like there needs to be some regulation. It happens too often.”

Lloyd was at the walkout with UNCW sophomore Keith Miller who had similar reasons for attending.

“I have had friends and family who have been victims of gun violence and there need to be stricter regulations of who should be able to carry guns and where they should be able to carry guns,” Miller said. “I came just to pay my condolences to the 17 Florida victims of school violence; that should have never happened at all and it’s pretty sad because (this walkout) was not as publicized as it should have been. There needs to be a change.”

Mekiyah Bailey, a graduate student work in the Chemistry department, also participated in the walkout. She was glad that this discussion encouraged the university to add safety precautions on campus.

“Since I teach the labs, I think it is very important that I be here because I do not want to see a situation of what happened in Florida happen on our campus,” Bailey said. “I personally feel like some of the aspects of teaching in the lab, we do not know the right protocols to protect the students or even how to protect ourselves.”

Bailey thanked the university for changing the locks on the doors. New locks that can be locked from the inside of the classroom have been added on campus “which is a great safety precaution,” according to Bailey.

“I still feel like we are just ill prepared,” Bailey said. “I feel like coming here at least helps the university, the campus and the government see that students really care about safety and we want change to happen.”

Prior to the walkout, the university expressed that they would not make any definitive stances politically on this matter.

Monday, Mar. 12, Provost Marilyn Sheerer sent out a mass email to the UNCW community via the Office of University Relations. She acknowledged that students “are likely aware of the National School Walkout expected to occur across our country on Wednesday, March 14 at 10 a.m. (lasting for 17 minutes), to honor the victims of the Parkland, FL, school shooting last month.”

While UNCW does not have a position on the walkout or the political debate it represents, the email said, Provost Sheerer said that the university thought this would be a “good opportunity to remind faculty, staff and students of some protocols in place.”

“The university supports students’ and employees’ First Amendment right to participate in peaceful demonstrations,” Provost Sheerer’s email said. “However, we would ask for your help in minimizing disruption to classroom instruction and other daily campus activity. If you do choose to participate in the National School Walkout, we hope that you will promptly make your way back to your classrooms or workplace locations after the 17 minutes.”

The email also said that absence policies remain at the discretion of faculty. Employees, at their managers’ discretion, had the option to opt to use “leave time” to participate in the walkout. According to the email, the university encouraged faculty and staff to be flexible with students and employees who do choose to participate in the walkout.

“This is a good time to reiterate that UNCW remains committed to encouraging meaningful discourse among current and prospective students, faculty, staff, and visitors,” Provost Sheerer’s email said. “…I hope that this gesture will be seen as one of compassion and sympathy, and not as a political statement of some kind. Thank you in advance for helping keep our campus a civil and respectful space.”