Our generation has never known a world without the threat of school shootings. We were practicing active shooter situations before we knew how to do long division — our teachers may have used phrases like “Code Red” or “shelter-in-place,” but we know what they really meant. In middle school, we joked about trench coats and heavy metal and “Bodies” by Drowning Pool because when we’re afraid of things, we try to cope by finding some humor in them. In high school, we watched Congress vote down even the most incremental increases in gun regulation as parents from Newtown, Connecticut, stood silently in the gallery and our president cried tears of anger and frustration.
For two decades our leaders have failed us. So in 2018, we’re changing our leaders. Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, not Donald Trump or Wayne LaPierre or Marco Rubio, are going to bring us into the future. And the tens of thousands of high school students staging walkouts, sit-ins and protests on the National Mall, not faceless bureaucrats at the NRA or washed-up hacks at CPAC, will be the ones to finally bring about change.
We applaud Cornell’s decision to assure its applicants that “disciplinary action” resulting from these protests will not adversely affect their candidacies for acceptance. Cornell joins many of its peer institutions in delivering a sharp rebuke to the school districts that have attempted to tamp down protest. We hope that, if anything, participating in these valuable exercises in engagement and advocacy will strengthen students’ applications.
But Cornell can and should do more. As long as NRA-backed legislation prevents the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other governmental agencies from conducting research on gun violence, policymakers and activists alike will lack easily accessible up-to-date, exhaustive information. Cornell and its peer institutions should step in and conduct that research themselves. We have the brainpower, the money and the legitimacy to make a real difference, and we should do so in every way we can.