On Tuesday 3 April, two students organised a “March for Our Lives” rally in St Andrews, with the now-international movement advocating for gun reform and greater school safety in America.
The first March for Our Lives rally, which was held in Washington D.C. on Saturday 24 March, saw protests in over 800 locations around the world on the same day, including London, Tokyo, Sydney, and Mumbai.
Though the St Andrews rally came later due to the Easter break, the organisers, Josh Bernard-Cooper and MacKenzie Rumage, were “humbled” by the significant and timely response from the St Andrews student body, as the event was only announced a few days before it took place.
The march itself began at the Union and headed towards Lower College Lawn, where MSP Willie Rennie and MP Stephen Gethins spoke to the crowd of over 80 attendees. Ellie Crozier, the sister of Dunblane Massacre victim Emma Crozier, addressed the crowd as well, and she marched alongside her mother, Allison Crozier.
Additionally, The Other Guys performed at the rally in St Salvator’s Quad.
On the event, Mr Bernard-Cooper said, “Of course it was never intended to be the most politically effective march, but that wasn’t the only purpose. It was to serve as a reminder to American St Andrews students that, even though they are thousands of miles from home, their voices are still important and valued.”
He continued, “For the non-American student population, the march aimed to remind them that even though this issue seems so far from their lives it affects some of their colleagues and closest friends.”
The Rally was organised by Mr Bernard-Cooper and Ms Rumage via Facebook, where nearly 400 students had marked themselves as “interested.”
According to Ms Rumage, a group chat emerged the day after the March for Our Lives rally on 24 March, and they then worked to create a graphic and Facebook event for a St Andrews demonstration.
On her motivation for creating the event, she said, “The world is global now. Everyone is paying attention to each other’s political climates. The gun control debate is part of, and contributes to, America’s polarisation, and that polarisation, which has dramatically increased over the past few years, affects how other countries see us.”
She continued, “[Young people] have something to say, and now they can say it at the national, even global, stage. I think people across the world can learn from the marchers that if you find something wrong with your country, government [or] society, it’s not that hard to speak out against it.”
The movement emerged after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on Wednesday 14 February, which left 17 dead and another 17 injured. The survivors created the hashtag #NeverAgain, launching a wider movement, and eventually launched the March for Our Lives in D.C. and across the globe.