As a first-year business student at Kelley School of Business, I have come to appreciate that business is broader than just our academic course work. As a result, I have learned the importance of reading daily about our dramatically complex and challenging world and all the issues that at first seem like they are not business issues at all. However, upon deeper examination I realize they can create negative impacts to our markets, culture, education, and sustainability. Because of my new, broader perspective in this regard I decided to pack my bags, convince two of my friends from IUPUI to join me and drive to Washington D.C. to participate in the March for our Lives rally on Saturday, March 24th, 2018.
February 14, 2018 is becoming all too common in our society. It is the day that we heard the tragic news of yet another school shooting, this one killing three staff members and 14 students. Upon hearing this, I instantly thought of my younger sister, who is a freshman in high school. Questions such as, “What if there was a shooting at her school? Is it safe to be in high schools?” were running through my head. I quickly began asking myself questions about gun control and violence because I want to know my sister is going to be safe at school and in the streets. These questions have turned into daily concerns, and I am convinced there are no immediate solutions but sitting on the sidelines and observing is not acceptable for me.
As my friends and I drove to Washington D.C. on Friday I began thinking about my business studies and how business itself can be impacted by the condition and safety of our nation's schools. If a community’s school are unsafe, how does this affect the economic development of that community? How will businesses attract new employees if the school systems in the prospective employer’s city have negative connotations around safety and security? This is a national dilemma and it is certainly a business dilemma.
- Since March 2000 there has been 146 school shootings, in that time 158 deaths.1
- There have been 8 school shootings this year in which a gun was fired and victims were either killed or injured.2
When my friends and I arrived in Washington D.C. we started to see the impact this rally had on other people. Participants with buttons and shirts supporting the cause were all packed into our hotel lobby talking with each other. Realizing that we were about to be part of something much bigger than just ourselves, we thought about the possible effect this could have on lobbying efforts, sales of guns, and business/school codes of conducts, and even the stock market. With so many young but important voices about to speak the next day, this could be the start of a new movement.
By 8:00 A.M. we were packed shoulder to shoulder in an already excited crowd, shouting different chants such as, “enough is enough” and “vote them out." To my surprise, there were people of all ages, ranging from 6 to 80. One would think that the four hour long wait until the march started would be challenging, but with so many people around us with similar views, the mantra remained constant. By the time the march began, I was standing next to a few students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas, the site of the most recent school shooting.
As soon as the rally began the entire crowd went silent and pressed together even closer than before. It became clear from the first speech that this rally was not just about school shootings, but gun violence in general. One of the first speeches was by teenager named Edna Chavez from Los Angeles, who brought attention to the gun violence problem in Los Angeles. The passion and confidence with which she spoke with is something that will stick in my mind forever. It is not everyday you see a teenager speak with so much conviction.
At the end of every speech, the victims from Marjory Stoneman Douglas would cry and cheer louder than anyone else in the crowd. When Emma Gonzalez (one of the March for our Lives organizers) finally rose to speak, it was as if everyone was holding their breath waiting to hear her message. During her speech she held about four minutes of silence, staring into the camera with tears rolling down her cheeks to symbolize the time it took for Nikolas Cruz to kill 17 people within her school. Her speech is what made the long drive and the excessive amount of standing worth it. She shows that no matter how young someone might be, their voice still matters. It teaches everybody, not just teenagers, that sitting back and complaining doesn’t do anything. Being an active U.S. citizen and voting makes things change.
It doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree with gun control, what matters is that you are being active and trying to engage yourself in society to help change what you want to be changed. This is no longer the time to be a silent citizen. It is extremely important to be involved and informed with what is happening around us. Being informed is an extremely important part of life and business.
As business students we must understand the broader impacts of our society to effectively grow and run our businesses. We learn in our lectures the importance of sustainable initiatives that build lasting businesses. We learn in our lectures the importance of economic development. We learn in our lectures the importance of hiring and workforce development. We must now learn the importance of becoming involved and affecting societal change so that businesses and their communities are able to thrive and create wealth. Safe schools are part of this equation.
- "Mass School Shooting Statistics." Statistic Brain. March 06, 2018. Accessed March 28, 2018. https://www.statisticbrain.com/school-shooting-statistics/
- Groome, Imogen. "How Many School Shootings Have There Been in the US in 2018? Florida High School the Latest Hit by Gun Violence." The Sun. March 26, 2018. Accessed March 28, 2018. https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/5581283/school-shootings-2018-us-america-how-many-florida-parkland-shooting/.