UA Students Protest for Change During Walkout

In remembrance of the lives lost to gun violence, students and others gathered outside Bierce Library to advocate for change within the nation.


Brooklyn Dennison

Students, faculty and staff stand outside of Bierce Library for the walkout at The University of Akron.

By Brooklyn Dennison and Megan Parker

The University of Akron students, faculty and staff participated in a walkout on Wednesday in front of Bierce Library in remembrance of the 17 lives lost during the Parkland school shooting and to protest for anti-gun violence legislation.

The UA walkout coincided with the national walkout sponsored by The Women’s March Network that called for students, teachers, school administrators, parents and allies to take part in a national school walkout from 10-10:17 a.m.

Over 100 students participated in the protest, many of them asking for change.

Kelsey Ball, a sophomore psychology major, for example, said gun violence is a national problem and nothing is being done about it. “No one should be afraid to send their child to school and then not come back,” Ball said.

Megan Parker
University of Akron students Ben Roter and Lily Kuzmik create anti-gun violence posters in Bierce before the Walkout protest.

Freshman Lauren Kilpatrick, a Social Work Major, said she was inspired to take action from being exposed to the Parkland students’ voices and research. “Just being able to look so far into it has made me realize what a problem gun violence is. I always knew, but now it is just so apparent to me. Researching it has just broken my heart,” she said.

Brooklyn Dennison
Lily Kuzmik, center, holding her #NeverAgain poster during The University of Akron Walkout outside of Bierce Library.

The walkout was organized by Megan Delong, a Sociology senior. Delong said she was motivated to arrange the walkout when one of her professors recommended it during class.

Multiple speakers participated in the protest.


Brooklyn Dennison
Shannon Conrad Wokojance speaking about domestic violence in front of Bierce Library next to the organizer of the walkout, student Megan Delong.

First, Shannon Wokojance, manager of the Battered Women’s Shelter, spoke of how gun violence has negatively affected domestic violence and the need for law enforcement to remove guns from those situations.

Next, Corey Cargill, a UA student, discussed how democracy and change are important for this generation to work toward.

Later, Tara Mosley Samples, a City of Akron councilwoman, encouraged students to believe they are the generation that will start the process of change, forward progress and positive attitudes.

Other speakers included Sarah Burgess, who spoke about her experience as a survivor of the 2012 Chardon High School shooting and Jamie Keaton, a graduate of Kenmore High School, read a poem that concluded the walkout.

Delong said the protest was important to her because “children’s lives are being lost at the hands of people not doing their job and that makes it very important for people like me, who [are] in school and could possibly be one of these people at one point in time, to make sure we are all safe.”

Along with protesting to ask for change, many of the students had thoughts on how to change.

Ball said she thinks more gun laws should be implemented and there should be distinctions on which guns are acceptable to have. Ball also said there should be a focus on mental health as well.

Many students advocated to reach out to government officials and to stay politically active.

Senior Dominic Bruno, an engineering student, said in a democracy, the people have the power to make a change; but if they stay asleep, they lose that power.

High school Sophomore Ra Be Ya said the Walkout was important for people to be a part of because lives are being lost across the nation due to gun violence. However, Ya said she felt more people should have attended the Walkout.

Others also believe more students should have left their classes to attend the Walkout.

Brooklyn Dennison
A participant with a #TrumpPenceMustGo sign near the walkout crowd.

Any act of protest is going to be frowned upon and going to be pushed against, Kilpatrick said, but you have to consider it worthy.

“Use your voice to speak out against gun violence and talk about gun control with people around you, people that don’t necessarily have the same views as you,” Delong said.