CalArts president discusses gun violence in schools, campus walkout

California Institute of the Arts in Valencia. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

As students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School returned to school Wednesday, students throughout the country continued to plan and organize campus demonstrations and school walkouts to demand safer school campuses and stricter gun laws.

The first of many demonstrations occurred last week, when students throughout the United States held campus demonstrations and walkouts following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida on Valentine’s Day.

Now, others are uniting for the March 14 nationwide walkout organized by the Women’s March and the March for Our Lives organizations, and California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) President Ravi Rajan is encouraging the institute’s students, faculty and staff to participate in the walkout with him.

“As President of CalArts, and as a father, I am committed to this effort to end senseless gun violence. Keeping students safe while at school must become a top priority in this country, and I know that many in our community share this view,” Rajan said in a statement.  “This walkout is just the start of a much larger effort if we are to effect real change, but I believe that change is coming.”

At CalArts, those wishing to participate in the nationwide walkout will gather in the school’s Main Gallery at 9:50 a.m. before walking out at 10 a.m.   The walkout will last for 17 minutes to honor the 17 students and teachers killed at Stoneman Douglas High School.

“I encourage everyone who wants to participate – students, faculty and staff – to join me in this walkout,” Rajan said.

Rajan noted that he is participating in the walkout to draw attention to the fact that “no other country in the world suffers from school shootings like the U.S.”

“Parkland, Florida – the 18th school shooting this year.  Our country is now averaging more than two school shootings per week in 2018,” Rajan said. “This epidemic is beyond grotesque, and it is incumbent upon us as citizen artists to take action and to support efforts to quite literally protect the lives of teachers and children.”

Rajan was also inspired by the voices of the students, staff and faculty at Stoneman Douglas High School who organized protests and walkouts following the school shooting.

“Despite the horror that students, staff and faculty at Stoneman Douglas suffered last week, they have shown remarkable courage and presence of mind to stand up and demand real change,” Rajan said.  “Their resolve encourages me, and reminds us all that we have a voice in this fight.”

CalArts’ Admission Office has also alerted applicants to the school that any participation in the ongoing walkouts and demonstrations will have no impact on students’ admission to the institute.

“​As an institute that values student expression and aims to create citizen artists who will affect change in the world, CalArts Admissions greatly values our applicants and students rights’ to call for change by exercising their First Amendment rights,” the admissions website wrote online.  “Any disciplinary action that our applicants face from peaceful participation in a protest will in no way affect their admission decision.”

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