Remarks from the National School Walkout

March 16th, 2018 - 4:16pm



Thank you for your presence and your participation. This morning we join middle schools, high schools, colleges, and universities all across the nation in this National School Walkout as we honor the 17 lives taken in the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14.

I’d like to thank Ismail Azam, ASCOM president, for his leadership in coordinating this event and our District Police Department for their collaboration to ensure the safety of our campus community. I’d also like to thank the faculty and staff for their support and participation.

The horrific incident in Parkland, Florida is the latest in a long and very unfortunate list of school shootings in our history. Many of us look back and recall the tragedy that took place at Columbine High School in April 1999, nearly 19 years ago. Hard to believe it’s already been 19 years.

While the massacre at Columbine was unique at the time because of the number of victims and types of weapons used, Columbine was not the first school shooting. The first school shooting actually dates all the way back to July 1764, in Greencastle, Pennsylvania. So while the nature of the horrific incidents has changed, our schools have been vulnerable throughout history.

For many of you, this has been your reality your entire lives. A reality of not only school shootings but also other mass shootings for that matter. Clearly, our system has failed you. It’s failed all of us. And it certainly failed the 279 individuals who died and the hundreds of others who were injured in school shootings since Columbine. 

Regardless of your politics—red or blue—your opinion about the Second Amendment, your affiliation or views on the NRA, I hope we can agree that our society must do better. We, in fact, are the only civilized nation that has this problem.

While I have my opinions, I don’t necessarily have the answers. However, I firmly believe we owe it to ourselves and future generations to get it right. I encourage each of you to use your individual and collective voices to bring about the change you envision.

Young people—as well as those young at heart—have a history of making a difference in this country.

In 1957, there were nine African American students —The Little Rock Nine—who defied the governor of Arkansas and enrolled in the all-white Little Rock Central High School.  This act ultimately led to the desegregation of schools in the south.

In 1965, 13-year-old Mary Beth Tinker’s black armband, which she and a group of students wore in protest of the Vietnam War, sparked a lawsuit that ultimately gave free speech rights to public school students.

In 1968, thousands of Chicano/Latino students in East Los Angeles high schools forced a school reform movement that continues today.

More recent examples include the 2006 Los Angeles Unified walkouts, where student protests played an important role in defeating the Border Protection, Anti-terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005; and most recently—the Black Lives Matter movement, protesting police violence, closing of schools in African American neighborhoods, and the so-called “school-to-prison pipeline,” among other social justice issues.

So perhaps this movement that was started by students will finally be the catalyst that leads to real change.

I am proud that you have joined them. I encourage you to be warriors! Demand to be heard! Know you are making a difference! And finally—together—let’s bring integrity and truth the words NEVER AGAIN!

We are fortunate here at COM to have a highly capable, experienced, and community-focused police department under the leadership of Chief Jeff Marozick. Before I introduce Jeff, I would like to acknowledge that while we’ve seen school shootings happen indiscriminately across the nation, I’m reminded that it’s mathematically unlikely, if not improbable, to happen here. That said, we will continue to take the appropriate precautions and prepare for such an incident should the unthinkable occur.

I know that Chief Marozick has thoughts on this topic to share. Please welcome Chief Jeff Marozick.