Darcy Miller ’25 and Chiara Rothenberg ’25 recently started a Kenyon chapter of Students Demand Action, a national initiative dedicated to the prevention and awareness of gun violence. The student leaders hope the organization will help spread awareness of issues relating to gun violence and inspire student action on campus.
Miller and Rothenberg were inspired to bring a chapter of Students Demand Action to Kenyon during the summer of 2022, when they noticed a lack of student-run organizations dedicated to this specific cause. After a deadly school shooting in Uvalde, Texas that left 21 people dead, 19 of whom were elementary school students, they agreed that the topic of gun violence prevention was a necessary conversation to have at Kenyon.
“This past summer, it was on my radar that Kenyon didn’t have any organization like [Students Demand Action], even though gun violence and gun violence prevention is an issue that I think Kenyon students are very cognizant of,” Rothenberg said. “You always see the reposts when a shooting happens, but I had never seen a step taken beyond that at Kenyon.”
After contacting Everytown for Gun Safety, a nationwide movement working to end gun violence that oversees the Students Demand Action initiative, they set about bringing a chapter to Kenyon. The organization was officially approved by Student Council on Sept. 25.
In particular, Miller and Rothenberg view gun regulation laws in Ohio as a critical issue for their cause. In Ohio specifically, the laws here are pretty bad,” Miller said, noting that Everytown recently ranked Ohio as 30th in the nation for gun law strength. Rothenberg further stressed the issue of permitless carry bills and concealed carry bills, particularly when it comes to the safety of students at schools across the county. In June, Ohio’s permitless carry law went into effect, which allows Ohioans over 21 to carry a concealed handgun without a permit.
“[At] Wiggin Street Elementary and Pleasant Street [Elementary], schools that Kenyon students volunteer at, teachers can legally have guns in the classroom. The implications that come with that are very risky,” she said.
Students Demand Action Kenyon had their first meeting two weeks ago, which around 15 people attended along with the student leaders. At the meeting, Miller and Rothenberg discussed future goals for the organization as well as how to spread awareness of gun violence prevention on campus. According to the leaders, action towards these goals will begin in January 2023, after the midterm elections are fully settled and attention shifts to the 2024 presidential election.
Once Students Demand Action Kenyon becomes more active on campus, they hope to begin canvassing and phone calls to encourage awareness and voter registration, as well as communicating with administrators and other student-run organizations to plan events. For the remainder of the fall semester, they plan to focus on increasing recruitment and creating a space for Kenyon students to get involved in the future.
Despite the impact of the midterm elections on Students Demand Action’s initial start, however, Miller and Rothenberg emphasized that the issue of gun violence, particularly in educational settings, is not necessarily a political one for them.
“I don’t want it to be overly political; I want it to be something for a safer future,” Miller said.
Both Miller and Rothenberg have high hopes for the future of Students Demand Action. In particular, they both stressed that gun violence prevention is a topical issue that will continue far past their time at Kenyon College.
“This is going to be an issue for a very long time,” Miller said. “We have a long way to go.”