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Road to change bus tour: Parkland survivors come to FGCU

Road to change bus tour: Parkland survivors come to FGCU
EN PHOTO BY ALEXANDRA FIGARES A student holds a "Never Again" sign at the Fort Myers March For Our Lives rally in late March.

Parkland school shooting survivors are taking a stance through political activism with the March For Our Lives: Road to Change bus tour — and one stop will be at FGCU.

The two-month, nationwide tour will make 50 stops and take on 20 states advocating for young voters to rally against gun violence and will begin touring in Naples and Fort Myers on Monday, June 25, where activists will meet with local lawmakers.

From 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. students will make their way to Naples to host a voter registration drive in preparation for the November mid-term elections. Then, they will head to FGCU for a town hall meeting from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. in the Cohen Center Ballroom.

Parkland student Cameron Kasky, along with former students Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, will join the tour. In a news conference, Kasky said the goal is to educate young voters.

“We can march. We can bring our politicians into a new light and make sure they are being held accountable. But at the end of the day, real change is brought from voting,” he said. “The best thing you can possibly do is vote.”

On Feb. 14, a lone gunman walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and killed 17 people.

The attack caused national outcry and prompted the “March For Our Lives” rally in Washington, D.C., which called to address gun violence.

But the rally has caused considerable controversy in the political sphere —  across the nation and on college campuses.

On Sunday, June 24, FGCU’s College Republicans published a press release in response to the tour, asking activists for 20 minutes to speak about the tour and its goals to “engage in a productive dialogue.”

The press release denounced the ban of assault weapons and aimed to “reaffirm” the youth support of the Second Amendment.

“We can promote school safety by tightening school security with single point entry, more registered school organizations and by allowing teachers who are willing and capable to carry their own firearms on school campuses,” Public Relations Chair of the College Republicans Bobby Garon said.

FGCU’s College Democrats also issued a statement, welcoming the activists and approving the dialogue on “sensible” gun laws.

“We acknowledge the significance of the Second Amendment and emphasize that our club stance has never promoted any infringement on the right of individual gun ownership,” President of the FGCU College Democrats Shane Broadstone said. “Simply, we see how it is also equally as important to protect the lives of our citizens, especially the lives of our children.

The Parkland shooting has provoked students to question the security measures in their schools and college campuses. FGCU President Mike Martin addressed those concerns to WGCU, assuring the university is prepared for any incidents that may occur.

“We train people across campus, and we try to work with groups on campus to ensure safety,” Martin said in an interview. “So, we just had a session on threat response and making everyone aware and giving them tips and insight as to how to best respond if they sense something is up.”

Martin said there was a heightened sense of awareness from faculty, staff and the university police department, and has implemented precautionary safety measures.

For example, FGCU students, faculty and staff will now be required to take an active shooter safety course, effective immediately.

The safety course – offered via Canvas – provides information on safety systems set in place at FGCU and includes a 10-minute video on “acts of extreme violence.”

Completion of the program is required before spring semester registration. If the program is not completed by Oct. 1, a hold will be placed for class registration.

“At FGCU, we want to optimize the safety of all who come to our campus,” President Mike Martin said in an email. “Part of this effort is to ensure our University community members are aware of safety features available at FGCU and have a basic knowledge concerning acts of extreme violence/active shooters.”

IF YOU GO:

What: Townhall meeting

When: Monday, June 25 [8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.]

Where: Cohen Center Ballroom

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