Standing in Boston Common at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 24 was powerful. Yes, it was powerful to watch hordes of people crowd the grass for the March for Our Lives. And yes, the speakers told harrowing tales about gun violence and survivors that awoke the next morning forgetting, for a fleeting moment of relief, about the deaths of friends and family. Most of all, however, I will remember the members of the crowd: As I glanced around, I saw a 13-year-old kid standing on top of a giant piece of ice. He was holding a sign that read, “Thirteen and afraid to go to school.” I watched teenagers in fluorescent rain jackets screaming, “We will not sit while Congress lets us die.” I saw college-aged protesters walking, their posters plastered with the devastating question: “Am I Next?”
This march belonged to our generation. We were loud, angry, passionate, and ready to take action. I was proud to be part of a crowd of young people proclaiming their independence. We arrived of our own volition, armed with posters and loud voices and the power of our influence, whether old enough to vote or not. From D.C. to L.A., students denounced political figures who refuse to listen to the voices of endangered students. Right in the middle of Boston Common, these young citizens from elementary schools, high schools, and colleges seized their futures and took action when powerful adults did not.
Becoming socially and politically active is an essential part of growing up. What’s more, it is a critical part of the college experience that is often overlooked. At Boston College, I increasingly encounter bright students that don’t vote, aren’t aware of national news or politics, and merely echo the political messages of their parents. Many of my friends look at news stories and tell me they wish they were more informed, but they don’t have time to be.They demonstrate the desire to form their own opinions about current events and social justice issues, but do not know where to begin.
As soon as our parents drop us off on campus, college marks a time when we are independently exposed to life’s tragedies and joys. For the first time, we are fully autonomous. More important than any football game, Mod party, or other “pinnacle” BC experience, students begin to realize that they are part of a much larger, endangered world. Through service trips, volunteering, and speakers on campus, we see that politics and the government have a direct impact on our lives and the troubled city we live in.
Yes, the adult world is complex and hard to understand as a young college student, but our deeply imperfect country desperately needs the inquisitive minds of a new generation to catalyze a brighter future. College is the ideal time to begin untangling the complexities of the world’s problems for yourself. If you aren’t sure where to begin, start by picking up a newspaper—they are free and available in Mac and Lower every morning. Make reading the news part of your morning routine. Attend an event on campus hosting a speaker who’s addressing a social justice issue you care about. Volunteer for a few hours each week in a part of Boston struggling with the complex issues of immigration, homelessness, and gentrification. Sign up for a march, or donate to a political organization you believe in. Most importantly, vote (but make sure to Google the candidates and their platforms first)! The many resources BC provides to keep its students informed about social justice and political issues aren’t so easily procurable in the real world. Eventually, the policies and politics you are currently ignorant of will truly have a direct impact on your life. Begin to develop a deeper understanding of the world now. BC offers every student the opportunity to engage with a world full of human hurt and suffering, and resolve to make it better.
During the middle of the March For Our Lives, one Boston Public School teacher declared from the stage, “Adults, they’re gonna tell you you’re snowflakes. But here on the East Coast, when we all band together as a storm, we call that a blizzard.” It seemed almost too perfect when, minutes later, a flurry of flakes started falling from the sky—as if some supernatural force was validating our potential and standing with us in solidarity. It is time that BC students realize that it is up to us to march together, declare our power, and claim a brighter future.
Featured Graphic by Nicole Chan / Graphics Editor