Though my voice is now raspy and my legs are tired, I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.
As a Vanderbilt student, I was honestly scared that my professor or classmates would judge me for walking out. I had heard of “performance activism” where people post or show their activism for their own social gain, rather than to help a cause. I was afraid that walking out of my class would appear as performance activism, because it felt so theatrical.
I pictured my professor barely getting into his lesson that he prepared for the day, only to be interrupted by me standing up in front of the class and leaving. Like the goody-two-shoes I am, I even asked my professor for permission to leave the class. Ironic, right?
My fears were instantly disproven when talking to more professors and classmates. To my surprise, many professors, including my own, cancelled their classes even before the walkout started out of support. From the professors I spoke to, many even claimed that they hoped students would walk out of their class.
Marching to the capitol, I felt scared yet inspired. To be fully honest, I wasn’t scared of getting arrested. I was scared that someone would come with a gun. I was scared that this anti-gun protest would spark something in a gun owner’s mind, and give them the power of turning a peaceful situation into a violent one.
Thankfully, the protest was safe and felt powerful. Running into my classmates, floor-mates, and sorority sisters truly made me realize how important the issue of gun control is to my community. It made me feel like I wasn’t alone in my fears. It gave me hope for future policy.
There was even a Vanderbilt professor speaking to the crowd!
Ultimately, a year from now, I think I would have forgotten exactly what I learned about in class on Monday. But I definitely will not forget about his protest. Chanting with people, demanding change, and reading the sad, yet true signs everyone brought will stick with me forever. I hope that this protest riled up people enough to create a change in the system of gun violence in schools.