University of Arizona students and more rallied to call on school administration to do more to prevent gun violence on campus.
Student members of the UA Young Democrats, joined by members of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, held a demonstration Friday, Oct. 21, at the Alumni Plaza on the UA Mall. This rally was in response to the university’s handling of the recent murder of a professor on campus.
According to Young Democrats President Anastasia Taylor, the purpose of the rally was to pressure the university administration to prioritize the safety of students and faculty. Another purpose was to demand transparency in the process of increasing security measures on campus.
“That’s why we’re having this, so we can let our frustration out to the administration. The administration can see [it] harmed us, not only did [it] harm us, [it] led to the circumstances of a man being killed,” Taylor said. “[It] lead to the circumstances of thousands of students who live on campus to be fearful for their lives. [It] led faculty and staff to be worried, ‘if I give this student a bad grade are they gonna come murder me?'”
Other speakers at the rally included Democratic congressional candidate for congressional district six Kirsten Engel, the Associated Students of the University of Arizona Director of Campus Culture and Climate Pat Yango, ASUA President Patrick Robles and member of Students Demand Action Mary Catherine Cline.
“Really what motivates my presence here and so many other people’s presence here is a desire for more accountability and transparency from administration, to our students, our staff and the faculty about what things they’re going to take on to keep our community safe and to prevent other tragedies,” Yango said.
According to Taylor, this recent tragedy on campus acted as a wake-up call for many students.
“I think a lot of students are starting to kind of realize like this isn't just a whatever issue,” Taylor said. “We need to be able to learn in peace. We need to be able to have friends, to do clubs without the fear of ‘am I going to get shot today? Should I not go to this class because there's glass windows, should I not go to this class because it's on the fourth floor and it's crammed and only has one door?'”
Throughout the rally, speakers expressed the urgency of the situation and a desire to prevent a tragedy, like the shooting on campus a few weeks ago, from ever happening again.
“We’re in a time of great peril right now. Students are worried about our safety. We’re worried about what’s to come next if concrete actions aren’t taken,” Robles said. “We have no capacity to approach this issue in a passive manner. Too much is on the line. Our lives are on the line. Students are ready to come to the table, and that’s what it's going to take; coming to the table and finding solutions, so that another senseless act of violence doesn’t occur again.”
According to Robles, ASUA is working on creating a student safety committee to address these concerns with administration. Robles stressed student participation in these conversations and invited anyone to come up to the ASUA office on the third floor of the Student Union Memorial Center to speak with him.
“Today is the beginning of what is to come. Join us in this fight, in our efforts to make this campus safe. We want to have all your voices at the table,” Robles said.
The rally concluded with Taylor sharing the GoFundMe page for the family of professor Thomas Meixner. Anyone who wants to donate can visit the page titled, “Help Lift Up Thomas Meixner’s Family,” on GoFundMe.
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