Approximately 1,000 people participated in a national walkout against gun violence on Friday at the Texas Capitol with dozens of UT students and nine registered Austin area
University students marched together due to an idea from communication and leadership sophomore Rey Castillo. In December, Castillo got in contact with campus organizations such as University Democrats to mobilize students against gun violence.
“We were one of the first schools to have such gun violence happen on our campus,” Castillo said. “Look back at (the mass shooting on) August 1st, 1966, and that’s all the proof that you need for why we should mobilize.”
Castillo said his own involvement began because he experienced fear in his neighborhood and knew a victim of gun violence.
“Anyone and everyone can be a victim of gun violence … it’s affected my friends, their friends, my community and how safe I find my own home,” Castillo said.
Biology freshman Madisen Pereida also got involved in the movement because she knew someone involved in gun violence. When Pereida was younger, her cousin shot a student after bringing a gun to school.
“The kid is alive, but kids shouldn’t have access to those kinds of weapons,” Pereida said. “The fact that someone close to me could cause that much harm to someone else, it felt like it had also become a burden on me.”
English professor Lisa Moore spoke at the rally. Moore said she is actively involved with this issue and is also pursuing a lawsuit against the state of Texas over the
campus carry law.
“I understand that there’s a time and a place for guns, but it’s a very limited time and a very limited place that does not include the University campus,” Moore said. “The reason we come here is to … grow as thinkers and citizens and we can’t do that if we’re afraid that someone having a bad day might pull out a gun in the class when a heated discussion is going on.”
Protesters and speakers at the rally said emphasis needs to be placed on adults siding with students in their fight to have their voices heard.
“We have to stand together to show everybody it’s not just the students … it’s everybody of all ages saying this is an important issue we need to tackle,” said Greg Jewett, UT’s Information Technology Services senior systems administrator.
Lucy Griswold, a teacher at McCallum High School and a UT alumna, was also rallying in solidarity with her students after her own history of activism at UT. Griswold was arrested in 2012 after participating in a sit-in at former UT President William Powers Jr.’s office.
“Students are clearly at the forefront of this movement and as adults we should be amplifying their voices,” Griswold said. “But … we should practice what we teach, and if we’re teaching about justice and about change then we should embody that change alongside our students.”