In the wake of the recent mass shootings and school walkouts across the country, national political organizations and Penn’s student groups convened to discuss nonpartisan actions regarding gun violence in the United States.
Penn's chapter of Common Party, TableTalk Global, and Bridge USA hosted the event, which took place in Houston Hall on March 20. Other Penn co-sponsors included The Polybian Society, TableTalk Penn, Penn College Republicans, Penn Democrats, and Penn in Washington.
College junior Nicole Rubin, one of the leaders of the Common Party, said with so many perspectives and controversial ideas that are involved with gun violence, it is important for people to debate and consider views from the opposing side. Common Party is an organization that hopes people can discuss ideas across the political spectrum.
TableTalk Global hoped the event could “provide a space on campus for students to put their minds together, outside of the classroom, to discuss what is going on in our country surrounding school safety and gun violence,” according to the organization’s founder and 2017 School of Arts and Sciences graduate Sophie Beren.
Students broke into small discussion groups, where they shared not only their feelings after the Parkland incident, but also discussed the possible causes and solutions for gun violence.
Collectively, students proposed stricter gun laws and the need for politicians to not let money influence politics or social policy making.
For instance, Rubin, also a former reporter of The Daily Pennsylvanian, said while money does play a large role in politics and influences legislation, she would have liked to see more willingness from politicians to listen to their constituents rather than be influenced by economics.
Students also discussed the media's role in mass shootings and whether it has a negative or positive influence.
College sophomore Zoe Schwingel-Sauer felt some psychopaths may be more motivated by fame due to the increased media reportage of such events. She also felt the situation was inevitable, as people need to know what is happening around them in order to discuss the problems in society.
Penn's TableTalk Committee Chair and College freshman Eva Spier also mentioned the media’s role in polarizing people's opinions on gun violence, especially on social media sites like Facebook.
This is not the first time members of the Penn community have come together to address gun violence. On Feb. 22, dozens of Penn students gathered by the LOVE statue in a nonpartisan demonstration, each holding a sign detailing a death due to mass shootings. In solidarity with students nationwide protesting gun violence, members of Penn Law and The Wistar Institute participated in a walkout last week.
College sophomore and College Republicans Communications Director Bob Bailey mentioned the urgency to “make personal safety a priority and a topic of conversation on the national scale.” Bailey said “after tragedies like the Parkland shooting, we feel even more motivated to contribute our thoughts to the ongoing debate centered on enhancing the safety of American citizens.”
Previously, TableTalk Global has hosted an event on allyship and discussed what it meant to be an ally on campus after black students were added to a racist GroupMe chat last year.
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