In remembrance of the one-year anniversary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, Binghamton University students held a vigil on the Peace Quad on Thursday evening.
Organized by the Binghamton chapter of March for Our Lives (MFOL), a national student-led movement dedicated to ending gun violence, the vigil aimed to honor the victims of the Parkland shooting and bring attention to the impact of gun violence in the United States. Julia Saltzman, MFOL’s communications director and a freshman majoring in philosophy, politics and law, said the vigil also highlighted the significance of the shooting, which launched the MFOL movement in schools, colleges and communities across the nation.
Saltzman read a message that was posted on their organization’s social media by a parent of one of the Parkland shooting victims.
“As a Marjory Stoneman Douglas parent, my son and I thank you,” the post read. “Kids should be able to have a safe education where they can focus on learning without being shot to death in the process. No parent should ever have to go through what we went through and Sandy Hook, Columbine, etc. I’ve been so proud to see these young people use their voices to try and make a difference.”
According to Bennett Owens, chapter president of MFOL and a freshman majoring in political science, he created the chapter at BU after the Parkland shooting provoked his interest in gun control activism.
“I got into gun control activism after the Parkland shooting last February and that connected me to someone who ran the March for Our Lives chapter on Long Island,” Owens said. “She suggested that I start a chapter here in Binghamton, and I got all these people to help me lead it and create it and organize events for it.”
Chloe Levine, a freshman majoring in linguistics, said she attended the vigil because she had a connection to one of the victims of the Parkland shooting. Levine said the personal connection motivated her to become involved in gun control activism following the shooting.
“Scott Beigel, one of the 17 victims of the shooting, graduated from my high school,” Levine said. “When our school did our walkout about a year ago, his mom came. She didn’t say much but her gratitude was definitely felt. Scott Beigel was a teacher at Parkland. He was a really amazing man. He sheltered plenty of kids in his classroom while all this was going on.”
At the vigil, Levine held a sign encouraging others to “Honor Them With Action.” It also featured photos of the Parkland victims, including Beigel. Levine said she hoped MFOL would be able to cause real change.
“I hope March for Our Lives starting here at Binghamton will be a way for us to fight for those at Marjory Stoneman Douglas whose voices have been silenced so early on in their lives,” Levine said.