Student leaders organize Brandeis 'Never Again' events
At noon on Wednesday — exactly one month after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida — hundreds of students assembled around Chapels Pond, choosing to stand in solidarity with victims and silently call for reforms to gun control policies.
Though the event was initially scheduled to coincide with walkouts occurring across the nation at 10 a.m., organizers of the Brandeis Student Walkout for Solidarity with Parkland decided to delay the event until noon after heavy snowfall caused a delayed opening of campus, in an effort to include all who intended to participate.
Outside of the walkout, some chose to take a stand by joining or supporting the newly-formed group Brandeis Never Again. This group of student leaders has tasked itself with reaching out to students interested in or already planning events in response to the Parkland shooting. The group first formed when Renee Korgood ’20 and Sagie Tvizer ’19 began contacting students they knew personally and reaching out to various club leaders in an attempt to mobilize an on-campus effort that spanned the walkout and other initiatives.
As part of this campaign, Korgood and Tvizer reached out to Amanda Kahn ’20 and Josh Moll ’19, two students with deeply personal ties to the gun control reform movement.
“I am from Newtown, [Connecticut] and it’s been five years since the shooting has happened, and not much has changed on a national scale,” Kahn said in an interview with the Justice, referencing the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. She continued, “This time, it feels like we’ll actually change something, and that hasn’t happened in a long time.”
Moll is involved for similar reasons. In an email to the Justice, Moll said that his brother, Jake, is a survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting. Moll declared that “knowing he [Jake] could have been one of the students to not walk out inspired me more than anything to join the Never Again movement.”
Another Brandeis Never Again organizer, Julianna Scionti ’20, spoke with the Justice, saying, “My brother’s school went into lockdown two weeks ago because a student was threatening to open fire. The school was able to manage it, but the only reason they were able to do so was because he’s in Connecticut, ... where people benefited from laws that were passed after Sandy Hook.”
Scionti emphasized the importance of open communication in how her brother’s school managed the situation. “Students were comfortable going to the administration,” she said.
Providing resources and support for students wanting to make a change is the ultimate goal of Brandeis Never Again. Beyond the Brandeis Student Walkout, members of the Brandeis Never Again leadership have organized other events, a setup made possible by the group’s unorthodox leadership system.
While speaking to the Justice, both Kahn and Scionti stressed the importance of the group’s lack of rigid leadership structure. Scionti explained that “even though Renee and Sagie brought us all together, there’s not a hierarchy of voices. I think that’s a point of this group — to bring people and resources together.”
Kahn responded to concerns seen on Facebook and heard around campus that Brandeis Never Again organizers should be more inclusive of people of color in their activism. She shared that, in the next few days, the group will reach out to all culture clubs. In doing so, Brandeis Never Again will offer access to their resources and seek ways to support clubs in their events. The group is also working with Student Union President Jacob Edelman ’18 and plans to reach out to all club leaders.
In the coming week, Brandeis Never Again will host events focused on providing students with the resources and support necessary to bring about desired change.
Kahn also explained that the variety of planned events illustrates the group’s dedication to working with those who currently have ideas or events planned as well as those who wish to become more involved.
From Monday, March 19 to Friday, March 23, students will be tabling from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the Shapiro Campus Center to distribute resources to help those who wish to call or write their state and federal representatives.
Other events collaborate with various clubs, departments and programs on campus. For instance, there was a discussion about effective activism with Women’s Studies Research Center scholar Ruth Nemzoff yesterday.
Tonight, Scionti and Tvizer are helping to run a workshop for community advisors. This workshop is focused on how, in the wake of traumatic events, to have difficult conversations with residents in a way that is as supportive and non-judgemental as possible.
Anna Cass ’21, another member of Brandeis Never Again, is helping to organize a “Moment of Loudness: A Cry for Action.”
In an interview with the Justice, Cass explained the motivation behind the Moment of Loudness. “The Parkland shooting didn’t shock me,” she said. “It alarmed me that it didn’t shock me, that this level of violence felt normal to me. I sat in my dorm room talking to my roommate and stewing.”
Cass continued, “At 2 a.m., I got to thinking a moment of silence should be a rest between actions and not the extent of the action itself. That’s when I started to think about holding a Moment of Loudness.”
The Moment of Loudness will be held on Wednesday at 7 p.m., location to be announecd. Coordinators have reached out to members of the Brandeis community as they put together a list of performances from students, faculty and even local high school students.
The week of protest will culminate in the March for Our Lives on Saturday. The event, held in Boston, will occur simultaneously with other marches happening around the country. Scionti, who is also the co-founder and vice president of the Brandeis Drawing Club, explained that the club will hold an event on Thursday prior to the march in order to make signs for people to bring with them.
In all its combined efforts, Brandeis Never Again is attempting to involve as many of the Brandeis community as possible.
To all who wish to be involved — whether that be students, faculty or even members of the Waltham community — Scionti said, “There’s a space for you in the movement. Come find it.”
—Editor’s note: Julianna Scionti ’20 is a cartoonist for the Justice.