In response to the Feb. 14 mass shooting that killed 17 and wounded dozens more at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., students across the country have taken a stand by participating in walkouts and marches calling for an end to the American gun violence epidemic. It is critical that influential institutions like universities extend their support for this movement. Students can make a difference, but they need the help of institutions with power and financial resources to push for meaningful government action. For this reason, the recent action by the Tufts Arts, Sciences and Engineering (AS&E) faculty calling on the university to divest the school’s endowment from companies that produce, manufacture or distribute military-style assault weapons is a significant step in the right direction. According to a Daily article, the faculty came together in a 50–0–4 vote to urge the Board of Trustees and the Tufts administration to divest. The faculty vote added an important voice to the ongoing student conversation about how to stop gun violence.
In addition to faculty action, student efforts in the movement to tighten restrictions on the availability of guns and to put pressure on assault weapon manufacturers have been crucial. As noted in a Daily article, Tufts students have expressed their thoughts and ideas for change through political discussion groups like Cooperation and Innovation in Citizenship (CIVIC). Tufts Democrats and Tufts Progressive Alliance also planned a walkout and rally that has been rescheduled to take place April 20. This event will provide an important opportunity for Tufts students to show solidarity with the national student movement and series of walkouts. Tufts Republicans published a statement on their Facebook page on March 2 with policy proposals around gun control. It is critical for people on both sides of the political spectrum to work together to stop gun violence, and Tufts students have been at the forefront of such collaboration.
The next step is for the Tufts administration and the Board of Trustees to do their part by actually divesting from these companies. According to the Feb. 28 AS&E meeting minutes, Professor of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning Sheldon Krimsky brought the petition before the Senate, noting that stopping gun violence will have to be a collaborative effort that includes American universities. University President Anthony Monaco said at the meeting that he was sympathetic to the petition, as gun violence presents a particular threat to college campuses. Monaco added that while there could be some logistical barriers, he would try his best to advocate for divestment to the Board of Trustees. The Tufts faculty has helped spark an important dialogue on campus, and now the administration must act to show that it is committed to our safety and to the safety of students all over the country.