In response to the rising amount of school shootings across the country, high schoolers have begun to speak out in favor of stricter gun laws. Cal State Long Beach, a left-leaning campus on issues like immigration and police brutality, has done rather little to aid high school’s like Parkland in their efforts. Instead the campus body has allocated its efforts to miniscule issues, including graduation ceremonies, that don’t extend past the school’s borders.
From the Occupy Wall Street protests at UC Davis to the Kent State police shooting, organized gatherings on school campuses are nothing new. Protests have long been the instrument of change in the United States and their presence grown with the ever-increasing problems that plague the country.
Long Beach has seen its own fair share of demonstrations including a protest last fall over assuring the safety of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals students. However, recent campus movements have digressed to small-scale issues that don’t necessarily warrant such public gatherings.
Less than a month ago, the Cal State Long Beach administration went over students’ heads with changes to the commencement ceremony for the spring 2018 graduating class. In an attempt to conserve money, the administration opted to remove live music from the ceremony and move the location from the quad to the “intramural field.”
With many students upset over the disregard displayed by administration, a petition to bring back the live music to the ceremony began early February, which collected over 6,000 signatures.
After public pressure, the live music was reinstated but the change of location was set. Some students were still troubled and took to the Speaker’s Platform last week to voice their unhappiness, though nothing has come from it thus far.
At around the same time on the other side of the country, Parkland High School suffered a tragedy with a school shooting that claimed 17 lives. In response to this, Parkland students began to exercise their right to protest and went straight for the National Rifle Association.
While both issues carry their own weight in significance, we should take a look at the issues that truly matter. One threatens the safety of thousands of students while the other merely upsets a handful of students. A change of location will allow for easier accessibility for the handicapped and elderly attendees and will in no way threaten students from graduating.
Both Millennials and Generation Z have grown up in a culture that has normalized school shootings as just another news story. Unfortunately, it seems as if Millenials have become so desensitized to the violence that they have become complacent with it. Meanwhile in retaliation toward the continuing tragedies, Gen Z has refused to sit idly by.
The Parkland students have taken to social media, held rallies, and debated the NRA in a forum hosted by CNN. These students have spearheaded a movement that the adults who have sworn to protect them failed to accomplish.
The main issue I have with these high schoolers taking the lead on gun accountability and reform is that it shouldn’t be their responsibility to tackle this issue.
It should be the adults who push for change, instead we are focused on things like live music. While graduation is a significant occasion and a reflection of all the hard work students have poured into their future careers, a change in location should not spark this much outcry. I don’t see the importance as every graduation I have been a part of has been a truly forgettable experience.
To be a part of a movement that calls on Congress to reform gun-related laws would prove a much more memorable experience than a protest that changed the location of a graduation that would rarely be reminisced about.
While I mean no disrespect to those who long for their dream graduation experience, I believe students must evaluate their priorities. If we as a campus can come together and gather over 6,000 signatures to protest graduation changes then we can work toward more serious issues that affect a wider audience.