I had the great opportunity to sit down with our school representatives, Chloe Baumbach and Caitlin Houck-King, who are a part of an advocacy board of couple students from each of the high schools in MMSD. This new advocacy board created to voice the concerns of students at Memorial was created two days after the Parkland shooting. Caitlin had approached Principal Affeldt to talk about changing things regarding school administration. It was then when a friend of hers from West reached out, looking to build a larger network.
Here are a few thoughts from your representatives:
What pushes you to push for what you believe in?
Caitlin: I think it’s the future of our youth and the safety of our youth today. I think it’s awful that teachers and adults and students have to wonder how safe they will be today. They didn’t sign up for this and it’s awful that even elementary schoolers have to worry about a man that could come in and shoot us.
Chloe: The fact that nothing changed after Sandy Hook, I don’t understand why it’s taking so long for change.
Caitlin: Kids have access to guns, kids are hurting themselves.
For Chloe and Caitlin, it was more than fight for gun control. It was a fight for racial equality.
Regarding the shooter from Parkland, is it a privilege to be put under a special program or is a direct punishment deserved?
Chloe: If it was a black man, they would be placed in death row. Someone would have already attacked him.
Caitlin: Cruz has been given the privilege to be put under suicide watch, which is a great privilege in and of itself.
Chloe: It’s not a secret that white privilege is alive outside of prisons and inside of prisons. It’s phenomenal that they’re sent to a place because they’ve lost their rights [prison], yet they’re given more rights.
While our conversation went deeper into racial inequality in America, we came back to the bigger idea of fighting for what they believed in. Chloe and Caitlin were able to make history at a State Assembly with the other Madison high school advocates.
Chloe: There were 9 of us at the State assembly and the Republicans were freaking out.
Caitlin: They had 101 bills to get through that day (it was a four hour long debate). A democrat stood up and addressed the gun control issue and that they wanted to push for background checks When she was done speaking, a person started clapping and it set everyone off to start clapping.
‘The Angry Gavel Man’ started yelling to stop it. I mean, he literally looked like Anger from Inside Out. Then, the republicans realized that students were there and then they called a little time-out and were gone for an hour.
Chloe: It’s crazy to see the effect that only a small group of high schoolers had on the people at the Assembly. It comes down to being able to look at a student and tell them about the measure of safety that can be provided.
Madison high school students have organized a walkout on March 14th, starting at East High School at 12pm. Students will march through East Washington Avenue to the Capitol. There will be a sit-in at the Capitol after some people get to speak (which includes an Anti-NRA mom group). There will be times available during lunches to make posters for this walkout. SYS will be making orange ribbons and other clubs will be joining the effort to help with this walkout.
Join the effort! Whatever side you may be on, your safety depends on the decision that’ll be taken. Reach out to help.
Contact Chloe Baumbach and Caitlin Houck-King if you have any questions or concerns:
– Evanka Annyapu