On March 24, the nation saw one of the largest youth protest movements since the Vietnam War.
Spurred by a recent mass shooting – one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history – in Parkland, Fla., hundreds of thousands of students and supporters took to the streets to demand gun reform.
Although the centerpiece march occurred in Washington, D.C., protests occurred all over the world, including Pennsylvania.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, an estimated 3,000 students gathered in Pittsburgh to hold their own march. Among those marchers, 15 IUP students travelled to Pittsburgh by bus with sponsorship from the College Democrats of America.
“We raised the money for the bus,” said Lindsay Wynn (sophomore, criminology and political science), a member of IUP’s chapter of College Democrats. “GoFundMe, professors, parents and IUP community members helped bring together enough to support us.”
Funding for the bus also came from PA Faculty Say Enough, a group of more than 300 college professors in Pennsylvania dedicated to limiting gun violence.
This grassroots funding and organizing helped define the response to the Parkland shooting, according to The New York Times.
High schoolers, outside of voting age, helped spearhead the drive to protest current gun laws.
“Anything that gets people involved in the process will be a good thing,” Wynn said. “There will be an increase [in voters]. This is the first time a lot of people have gotten involved in things like this – and they are angry.”
Wynn said she made it to Pittsburgh at 11:30 a.m., along with 14 other IUP students.
Wynn said the group made it to the steps of the City-County Building and take part in leading the march.
“They really wanted students to lead everything,” Wynn said. “It was cool being able to look out over the whole crowd and see everyone and their signs.”
The group marched to Market Square and listened to speeches by students, victims of gun violence and city and state officials, such as Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto.
The march, according to Wynn, was more about gun violence in general than mass school shootings.
“I think it was a lot more focused than the Women’s March,” Wynn said. “Groups like Mom’s Demand Action for Gun Sense in America took part … there was a focus on getting universal background checks.”
Wynn said an assault-weapons ban could be seen as a goal but was hesitant about the actual political chances for such a bill to pass.
“There are town halls planned across the country on April 7,” Wynn said. “Even if that doesn’t change anything, it will be good for people to know exactly where their representatives stand so they can make informed choices.”
Wynn also talked about the importance of voting, with an eye toward coming midterms.
“Voter registration will be a big deal,” Wynn said. “We are trying to push that on campuses all over.”