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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Opinion-- A list of regrets before I graduate
Opinion-- A list of regrets before I graduate
Sal Wiertella March 1, 2024

NMU community members take part in national school walkout

Over+50+NMU+students%2C+faculty+and+administration+gather+in+the+academic+mall+to+stand+in+solidarity+with+those+from+the+Florida+high+school+that+experienced+a+mass+shooting+a+month+ago+where+17+people+died.+Photo+by%3A+Trevor+Drew
Over 50 NMU students, faculty and administration gather in the academic mall to stand in solidarity with those from the Florida high school that experienced a mass shooting a month ago where 17 people died. Photo by: Trevor Drew

It only takes 17 minutes to stand up to a nationwide issue, and students around the United States demonstrated what it means to peacefully protest on Wednesday morning during the nationwide school walkouts.

NMU students, along with members of the Marquette community, took a stand against gun violence in schools by participating in the walkouts in hopes of sparking further dialogue.

The walkouts started at 10 a.m. and ended at 10:17 a.m.—one minute for each of the 17 students and staff who died in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14.

Groups of students, faculty and administration gathered in the academic mall, along with other areas around campus, to stand in solidarity, speaking their feelings on school shootings and gun control.

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It was clarified that no student participating would be punished by the university itself, but faculty had full discretion over their individual classes, as said in an email that was sent out March 2 from President Fritz Erickson.

Amanda Onusko, a junior social work major, left her social work practice methods class to participate. When the Florida shooting happened, Onusko said she was appalled and felt like crying, but she also was not surprised.

“Right now in this moment, it’s most important to think about the loss of life, but also to celebrate the lives of those young individuals that were here at the time that they were—the life that they were living,” Onusko said.

Onusko said she walked out in solidarity with all of the people around the United States that aren’t being heard. Although none of the events have affected anyone close to her, it’s not to say it will always be like that, she said.

“It’s amazing to see everyone collectively coming together, taking a stand and participating,” she said.

The free and open exchange of ideas is an essential part of the university and NMU community, Erickson said. He thinks it’s important for everyone in the university and community to support the cause, he said.

“Regardless of the issue, I derive great satisfaction and feel great pride with our students who express their opinions in a peaceful, respectful fashion,” he said.

Erickson participated in the walkouts to support the students making a statement, he said, and thanked all of the students who participated for their passion and commitment.
“We have wonderful students who are committed to their particular ideals and are committed to sharing their views of the world in a multitude of different ways,” Erickson said. “We as a university and a community welcome that and celebrate that.”

Regardless of whether everyone agreed with the walkout, those protesting have the right to speak on social issues, Erickson said.

Students should be active participants in whatever political perspective they have, he said, and active political engagement across the political spectrum is healthy, and also up to the individual to decide.

While some high school students may be punished with suspension for walking out, Erickson said he spoke with the NMU admissions office and NMU will not put future students at a disadvantage if they were suspended for participating.

“One of the areas that I tend to push back against is when people say ‘It’s OK to speak but not when it’s uncomfortable for me.’ I believe that’s the very nature of censorship,” he said. “The idea of giving our students or anybody else that’s going to choose to walk out the opportunity to express themselves that way is really important to us.”

Schools in the area also participated, including Negaunee High School, where students walked to the auditorium and had a 17-minute moment of silence to honor the victims of the Florida shooting.

“It was done with class, it was done respectfully, and I’m very proud with our students on how they handled themselves and how they went about it,” Principal Mark Marana said.

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