Nearly 100 students, faculty, and staff gathered for a public rally in light of the recent shooting at Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Led by the college’s Black and Latinx Student Union (BLSU), the rally was held as a way to remember the victims and encourage conversation about Parkland.

Prior to the rally, four days after the shooting, the college community received 70 emails from various student organizations advocating for the exact same message. Each email “urge[d] every person to wear black to remember the victims and protest against gun violence.” The emails all showed support for BLSU who spearheaded the initiative. After witnessing the number of individuals who wore black the following day, BLSU organized the rally to continue the movement.

The rally began with a brief opening by Savannah Kelley ’21 who listed the names of the 17 victims who were killed. She then requested a moment of silence in remembrance of their lives and encouraged everyone to share their stories, feelings, or thoughts.

Dozens of individuals spoke through the microphone. Tears were shed, anger was expressed, and hope was given. Many talked about the surrealism of realizing how school shootings are becoming realities and a few even revealed how they endured school shootings in their hometowns. Faculty also shared how times have changed with violence and their hope for the future.

Diana Perez ’21, whose home is 10 minutes away from Parkland, spoke of having to help many of her close friends from Douglas High School cope with their losses. She emphasized the importance of ensuring that Hamilton remains a safe home for everyone, and to reach out to those on campus in need of a friend.

Perez reminded everyone to take initiative in contacting their representatives and senators requesting action, a sentiment that many others vocalized as well. As a representative in Student Assembly, she encouraged people to show their support for the victims at the phone bank and letter-writing day that SA will be hosting.

Commenting on the importance of the rally, BLSU President Delta Reyes ’20 said, “Engaging in social activism after the shooting is important because we need to keep the momentum going and, although the youth in our country is united because of a tragedy, it’s what’s making all of our efforts more powerful.”

Moving forward, BLSU will collaborate with the campus bookstore to set up an area where Hamilton students can write letters directly to the students, teachers, and families of Douglas High School. They hope to continue the conversation around gun violence, ensuring collective action rather than complacency.

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