Berkeley High School joins nationwide protest in response to Florida school shooting

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Karen Chow/File

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In response to a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14, in which 17 students were killed, Berkeley High School will be joining a nationwide 17-minute school walkout March 14, according to Uma Nagarajan-Swenson, student director for the Berkeley Unified School District.

Although students will be marked absent, no Berkeley High School, or BHS, student will be suspended for participating in the protests, as members of BHS faculty have endorsed the protest, according to BHS junior Maren Frye. The protest will officially begin at 10 a.m. in coordination with numerous other Bay Area schools.

The walkout is in support of more gun control laws, and it has gained nationwide attention in the past few days, especially because some high school administrators are threatening disciplinary action.

However, UC Berkeley, among other colleges, promised high school students in a tweet Saturday that protesting would not affect university admittance in response to a number of tweets about the protests.

“We would never refuse admission based on a prospective student engaging in a peaceful protest. We fully support the right to peacefully protest,” said campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore in an email. “Further, the UC application process does not ask prospective students about high school disciplinary actions. We don’t see or ask for such information.”

Many other universities including Yale University, Dartmouth College and George Washington University have joined UC Berkeley in this action on protests.

Frye is the co-president of Berkeley High Students Demand Action of Gun Sense in America club, which advocates for “common sense gun laws” and works to raise awareness about gun violence in America. Frye’s club and eight other clubs are coordinating the event. Frye added that the plan includes a minute of commemoration for each student who died, voter registration tables and a series of speakers.

According to Judy Appel, vice president of the Berkeley Unified School District Board of Education, Berkeley students have a long history of strong activism. She adds that although the school board has not taken an official position, there will be no suspensions in response to the protest, and she personally supports the students’ activism.

Moreover, Nagarajan-Swenson, a BHS senior, said BHS students have organized protests every year since she was a freshman, and she does not know of a single student who faced suspension or disciplinary action.

“I stand with the BHS student body in being incredibly inspired by the words and actions of the Parkland survivors,” Nagarajan-Swenson said in a text message. “Hopefully this action will send a serious message to the nation’s leaders that students are standing up for our lives and safety at school and demand gun reform.”

 

Contact Yao Huang at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @Yhoneplus.