Women You Should Know: The Next Greatest Generation – An Interview With Madison Hayes and Sneha Kollu
In February of this year, there was yet another mass shooting at a school. Unfortunately, this is barely a notable event. It happens so often now most of these shootings don’t get national media coverage. It’s hard to admit that a shooting at a school has become too commonplace to make the evening news outside of regional coverage. However, in this case, what became noteworthy, newsworthy, and groundbreaking was these students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School did not sit quietly with their grief.
Those students mobilized and mobilized a nation behind them to advocate for gun control leading a series of student walkouts and protests that have done more to put responsible gun ownership conversations in the spotlight than any group of adults before them. What we’ve learned about this generation of students in Florida and around the nation is they are vocal, informed, and ready to take action.
These kids are more adult than most adults you know. They are a shining example of the many reasons we have to be optimistic about our future.
Below is an interview with two students who have participated in the nationwide student protests and will walk again today. Out of the mouth of babes isn’t what it used to be. These girls are commanding attention and we should be grateful for that.
In their words:
Alyssa Alhadeff, 14. Scott Beigel, 35. Martin Duque, 14. Nicholas Dworet, 17. Aaron Feis, 37. Jaime Guttenberg, 14. Chris Hixon, 49. Luke Hoyer, 15. Cara Loughran, 14. Gina Montalto, 14. Joaquin Oliver, 17. Alaina Petty, 14. Meadow Pollack, 18. Helena Ramsay, 17. Alex Schachter, 14. Carmen Schentrup, 16. Peter Wang, 15
These are the victims of the shooting of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14th, 2018.
Since the February shooting, students across America have been standing up for themselves and their classmates by speaking out about the lack of change concerning school shootings in the last few decades.
On April 20th, 1999 two senior students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed twelve students and a teacher and wounded 23 others, in one of the deadliest shootings in modern U.S. history. This was one of the first mass school shootings. From then to now nothing has happened. When Marjory Stoneman Douglas was attacked, the students decided they no longer wanted to be another statistic.
Survivors from Stoneman Douglas have been very outspoken about their demands from our government, including:
Funding gun control research,
Strengthening the ATF Agency
Additionally, they are advocating for Universal background checks for gun owners, the ban of high capacity magazines, and the ban of assault weapons.
The most talked about ways that students are protesting include marches and school walkouts, with March for Our Lives on March 24th, and a 17-minute nationwide walkout on March 14th, with one minute of remembrance for every victim at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. However, the protests aren’t over.
There is still a walkout scheduled for today, April 20th, for the entire school day starting at 10 AM local time, students will walk out of classes to honor the victims of the shooting at Columbine High that took place on April 20th, 1999. This walkout is meant to express our frustration toward a government that has done so little to protect us from those wielding guns in the past 20 years.
Confluence Daily: Why have you decided to participate in the student protests for gun control?
Sneha Kollu: I have decided to participate in the protest because I am concerned that all my fellow classmates around the United States are not safe with all the shootings that are happening. I wanted to tell the government that this is enough we need change.
Madison Hayes: I have decided to protest for gun control because I am concerned for the safety of my friends and classmates, as well as other students nationwide. I want to be able to take pride in taking action on behalf of something I care about.
Confluence Daily: Do you feel fearful in your classrooms at school or are you protesting to support others?
Sneha Kollu: It’s both because this is happening all around the nation so of course I am fearful in my classroom. God forbid this could happen in my school too. I am supporting others cause it can happen at their schools too.
Madison Hayes: I don’t like to think about the possibility of something happening at my school. However, I know it is very possible. In the time I’ve attended there has been multiple threats and consequent arrests. However, it certainly scares me to know that eventually, they may not notice the threat in time. I really hate seeing the news report another shooting, regardless of how many were killed. In that way, I’m protesting both for my classmates and friends and for students nationwide.
Confluence Daily: Ideally, what would you like to see happen with gun control laws?
Sneha Kollu: I would love to see guns more restricted and secure because a lot of people don’t have a clean record like Nikolas Cruz, the shooter from Marjory Stoneman High School. He bought guns without any background check and that should not be happening. Most of the shooters don’t have a clean record so how did they get a gun? That is one thing I would love to see happen with gun control more security.
Madison Hayes: It seems to be a radical view, but I don’t believe there is any legitimate reason for civilians to own firearms. Many people make the case of guns for safety but in reality, they seem only to create a more violent confrontation. Therefore, I would love to see laws amended to repeal the 2nd amendment. It seems like many hold the view that severely restricting the mentally ill will bring change. However, I disagree. There are people who could easily avoid a mental health diagnosis who would shoot up a school, and I think it creates an unnecessary stigma against the mentally ill. While it will likely be a slow and gradual process, I think it will be worth it for the safety of all citizens. I would also be willing to cope with the idea that people could rent guns strictly for hunting. However, there would still be dangers present in that scenario.
Confluence Daily: Do you feel frustrated that it’s come to student protests to move the dial on change vs. adults dealing with adult issues so you don’t have to? OR do you feel empowered by being a part of the process?
Sneha Kollu: I feel empowered by being part of this process a lot of adults say “ The kids are our future” and it’s true we are, so these protests started by students is amazing. The Civil Rights movement was all led by students and we had a huge change in our society which was African-Americans getting the right to vote. Literally, history is repeating itself we won then. We will win now.
Madison Hayes: I am both empowered and frustrated. On one hand, gun control has been an issue literally longer than I’ve been alive. You would think politicians would have done more to restrict gun ownership, especially after the first major school shooting at Columbine in 1999. Especially after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in 2012. There have been too many school shootings to realistically list in an article, but even the most shocking school shootings have not caused major change. It’s about time something happens. However, I’m extremely proud of myself and my generation for standing up and asserting ourselves where adults refuse to take action.
Confluence Daily: Do you feel peer pressure to participate or not participate in the protests?
Sneha Kollu: I have not felt peer pressure to participate in the protests I am doing it out of my own decision and I am proud to be doing it. I don’t judge students or anyone else who isn’t doing it. It’s okay. However, I bet some of them felt pressured because so many others are participating in the protests.
Madison Hayes: I have not as an individual. However, the protests were a hot topic at school with many people discussing why they were or weren’t walking out. I heard people both urging people to walk out and not to walk out. Sadly I’m sure there were students who fell victim to peer pressure, either pressure for or against the protests, and though I’m grateful for their support, it saddens me to think that there were likely students at the protest who didn’t truly believe in the cause.
Confluence Daily: How do your parents feel about how you’re getting involved?
Sneha Kollu: My parents are really proud that I am involved with this. I am happy about that because some students can’t because their parents aren’t letting them for fear it might not be safe. I feel that we are safe doing this. It is a peaceful protest. This isn’t the olden days but I understand.
Madison Hayes: I’m lucky enough to have parents that support my decisions and my right to speak up for what I believe in. I think my mother is extremely proud of me and my classmates, as she wants me and my classmates to be safe as well. My father, while he also wants to be safe, disagrees about my views on what must happen with gun laws. However, he supports my right to stand up for what I believe in.
Confluence Daily: What is one thing you’d like to say to your legislators about gun control?
Sneha Kollu: The legislators should be ashamed that they aren’t doing anything when the whole nation is standing up for this. Both Republicans and Democrats know we are human beings, not objects that can be categorized. The legislators should take action now because us kids and parents will protest until our last breath until the law changes.
Madison Hayes: The biggest thing I want legislators to take from these protests is that it’s time to take action. Thoughts and prayers don’t save lives, it’s time to actually change the law to keep our nation’s students safe. If they don’t want to take action, or they care more about their position than the safety of the people the won’t hold office for long. I will be eligible to vote in the next election, and they won’t have my vote.
Confluence Daily: What do you think of Trump’s proposals on gun laws? In particular, how do you feel about his call to arm teachers?
Sneha Kollu: Arming teachers is such a bad idea. They are humans too. They have emotions and if they get angry they might threaten us with a gun. Additionally, if a policeman has to wait till the higher officers come to save us because they have the guns to stop the shooter how is it possible our teachers can stop a shooter with a normal gun.
Madison Hayes: I think that Trump is taking steps in the wrong direction. Teachers aren’t soldiers, and a school isn’t a war zone. Besides, let’s face it. There are some bad teachers out there. There are unstable teachers out there. Some schools might actually be more dangerous if some teachers had guns. If you’re trying to put out a fire you wouldn’t pour gasoline on it. If you’re trying to stop shootings, you don’t give people more guns.
Confluence Daily: Did you get in trouble at school for walking out for 17 minutes?
Sneha Kollu: No, I haven’t heard of anyone at our school or any other schools that got in trouble for walking out for 17 minutes.
Madison Hayes: So far no one has gotten in trouble for walking out. There were some rumors that the school would be punishing protesters, but it seems they too support our right to speak up. I was extremely proud that even in the face of the rumors of punishment so many people walked out. It was possibly the most impactful thing I’ve seen at my school. I’m not very involved at school events, but I could really feel the spirit of my peers that day. When a hush went over the crowd hundreds big to honor the 17 killed at Stoneman Douglas, it brought tears to my eyes. It made me feel so sure we could fix this.