The following is an interview conducted with Mia Lowy, one of the leaders behind Students Demand Action, which organized the March 14th walkout in opposition to gun violence.
What is the purpose behind your cause?
The purpose behind the Students Demand Action club at RHS is to let students really use their voice. Because most of us aren’t of voting age yet, we’re often ignored and our ideas are pushed aside. Even though we can’t vote yet, our ideas are really powerful and we’re very passionate about our future. THe purpose of the walkout was to band together to take a stand against gun violence. Although different members of SDA or people who attended the walkout might have different ideas of how gun violence should be prevented, we agree that we should be allowed to feel safe in our schools. Besides our own homes, school is where we spend a majority of our time. We learn and grow at school, and it should be a safe environment for us to do so. If our safety is at risk, we’re not able to be the best that we can be, and that really limits us.
Do you think it will make a difference?
I absolutely do. I know that some people didn’t think that walking out of school for 17 minutes would really do anything, but look at all the publicity it’s gotten! The walkout made such an impact because it’s not typical for teens in Ridgewood to really fight against anything- we’re very blessed to have great education, an incredible community, and an overall terrific town life. This walkout made people realize that issues like gun violence still occur in RIdgewood, as they are all over the US. Even if Ridgewood isn’t directly impacted by a mass shooting, every single student and teen is somehow affected by a mass shooting. Whether their cousin had left that night club ten minutes prior or they knew a victim of Parkland, gun violence is a huge issue that’s affecting the entirety of the US today. It’s important for us to work together to show that although we are young, we will not back down. We want to make sure the impact of the walkout continues, so students are currently planning a nearby March 24 rally in Hackensack (a smaller version of the March for Our Lives happening in Newark, NYC, and DC), and a possible April 20 event.
Parkland felt like the last straw for most of us. For many teens, we were still young when Sandy Hook occured. We weren’t aware of the power that our minds can create and how our actions can create change. Now that we’re older, we’ve been able to realize that we really can make an impact and fight for what we believe in. Feeling safe in schools shouldn’t be a privilege, it should be a right. ON February 15, one day after the Parkland shooting, the fire alarm at RHS went off. My classmates and I were hesitant to flee the building because of the possibility of a shooter waiting outside. We’ve gotten to the point where we don’t know whether to follow normal safety procedures. We don’t feel safe anymore. That’s why we act now- along with many other teenagers around the US, we don’t feel as if we can live our lives because we’re scared that they’ll be taken from us.
Why is this cause important?
As I said before, this issue has taken over the US. It’s in every newspaper, Instagram post, and Facebook group. Gun control is a tricky topic- people are protective of their rights, and we respect that .However, we fight for our right to feel safe, which we feel is more important than the right to own a gun. I don’t want to go to school and be worried if it’s my last time seeing my mom. I want to be able to enjoy my time in high school and grow to my fullest potential. With the way things are right now, we’re unable to do so. Something has to change. The only way to create change is to use your voice, which is what RHS students did on March 14.