By Elizabeth Sekkes
Throughout the past year, the news has frequently reported cases of gun violence occurring across the nation. Whether these traumatic events have happened in movie theaters or in schools, individuals have begun to ask if any place or event in the community is actually even safe to attend and be a part of anymore.
However, to some social justice students at Bridgewater State University, the problem with gun violence extends not just to schools and places of recreation, but also to urban impoverished neighborhoods.
Members of the Social Justice Residential Learning Community, as well as the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute, will hold a gun safety event entitled Peace is Possible: Stopping Gun Violence.
The event, which is free and open to anyone interested in attending, will take place on Tuesday, March 25. It will consist of a presentation on gun safety and what it means to the Bridgewater State community.
“When the students proposed this as a topic it was close to my heart, and I felt that it was a topic worth covering,” said Judith Willison, the assistant professor of the school of social work and the faculty associate of the Institute for Social Justice.
Willison, who has a background in criminal justice and working with victims and perpetrators of gun violence, said incidents of gun violence in poor neighborhoods are far less likely to reach the news than incidents of school shootings, but they are much more common.
The presentation will also discuss the impact gun safety has on the communities surrounding Bridgewater State, such as the poor neighborhoods described by Willison.
“What a great chance to give a voice to these community members who aren’t normally given a voice,” Willison said.
The event will also include personal stories, testimonials, and statistics from students from the Louis D. Brown Institute, as well as students from Bridgewater State, who have personally experienced gun violence in their lives or in the life of a loved one.
Dashawnda Barrett, a junior social work major who has focused on gun violence for her spring topic, said gun violence is a relatable topic not only in her personal life, but also in the lives of those in the university community.
“I personally chose to be a part of the topic because I have been a victim of gun violence as a resident in an urban community in Boston,” Barrett said. “We think that the topic of gun violence is important and relevant to the BSU community because many of the individuals that affiliate with BSU, and surrounding communities, have been, or are, victims of gun violence.”
In contemplating all that the Peace is Possible event will entail, Barrett shared a section from the grant that she and her team submitted to the Institute for Social Justice, in order to receive the necessary funds.
“This campus is rich in diversity,” wrote Barrett and her team. “This event will not only educate the public about the epidemic, but will touch and extend support to those who have experienced the gravity of it. This event will raise awareness on campus about gun violence and the underlying causes and will offer students the opportunity to get involved in preventing gun violence.”
Elizabeth Sekkes is The Comment’s News Editor. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.