As students across the nation prepare to walk out of schools on March 14, we stand ready to receive their message. Regardless of your school’s position on the issue, a responsibility we all share as stewards of the student community is to provide what support we can to ensure that everyone remains safe. Whether you are walking out alongside them or simply bearing witness, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Support in Safety.
This Walkout will take many forms. Some students are planning to march in the streets, others to sit or lay down in silence just outside their classrooms. And in every Walkout, one can expect social media (and in many cases, the actual Media) to play a big role. Here’s what you can do:
Manage traffic flow. You may need to divert or restrict traffic, or make additional parking arrangements, on and around campus. In this case, it’s helpful to know the planned gathering area(s) and travel routes.
Provide medical support. As with all large gatherings, it’s important to accommodate an increased risk for medical emergencies. Make sure that basic first aid supplies are at the ready and check that your AEDs are accessible. You may also opt to have EMTs onsite or on call, just in case.
- Coordinate with local agencies as needed. Additional safety and security can be supported by law enforcement, the fire department or medical responders. Make the call if the gathering's size or span is beyond your school’s capacity to safely manage the event.
This is a peaceful protest.
Student inspired. Student led. Student powered. Student organizers have communicated clear intentions that the walkout is meant to be a peaceful protest. It may be helpful to remind your students of this if any planned activities or behavior don’t align with the message.
Your students have rights.
While you reserve the right to enforce the standard penalties for missing class, schools cannot apply additional disciplinary action specifically for participating in the Walkout. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has shared this information with students via social media channels #knowyourrights
Most colleges are being supportive.
Cornell University, MIT and over 200 other colleges have provided written statements saying that “disciplinary action resulting from responsible engagement in non-violent protest will not jeopardize admission.”
Remember our mission.
Most of us will want to ensure that students remain empowered to act and speak on behalf of their cause. All of us can do our part in helping to ensure that students are supported in safety.