On the bus with SU students to March for Our Lives

SU students bus to March for Our Lives

More than 100 students ride to Washington to speak out against gun violence.
Published: March 24, 2018
March for Our Lives: Syracuse Students line up for the Student Association bus to Washington, D.C.
Student Association sponsored two buses and quickly added a third after the $5 tickets sold out.

More than 100 students lined up outside of Schine Student Center at 2 a.m. on Saturday awaiting buses that would take them to Washington, D.C. Campus was still awake and alive with students walking around Walnut Avenue in costume as they celebrated recent greek life initiations. By sharp contrast, the men and women getting settled onto the buses were bound for a national demonstration in memoriam of 17 lives lost in a massacre last month.

Soon after pulling out, the lights on the bus dimmed and everyone quieted down, attempting to get some sleep in preparation for a long day at the March for Our Lives, a protest organized by survivors of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Jill Wulfenstein, a program coordinator for the office of student activities, volunteered to chaperone a bus. While she usually keeps her political views private, Wulfenstein said this was a cause worth speaking out for. She’s originally from Las Vegas, and has family members who survived a shooting there. She spoke about the helplessness she felt when her nephew’s school went on lockdown for a potential active shooter.

“My nephew has special needs. Kids with special needs, you can’t just lock the door and tell them to be quiet. You can’t just do that,” Wulfenstein said.

Freshman Nicole Llewellyn described herself as politically uninvolved, but said she believes something has to be done about school shootings. She went to Washington with her sister and a friend carrying a sign that read, “Loving arms, not firearms.”

Going to Washington makes her message resonate, Llewellyn said. “It’s a place where you can voice your opinions louder because everyone is coming together from different places.”

 

The sun rises over Interstate 83 in Pennsylvania, about two hours away from Washington DC, where the national March for Our Lives rally is taking place.

Syracuse University students take a quick nap on the final stretch of the trip on their way to Washington DC for the March for Our Lives rally.

Student Association sponsored two buses and quickly added a third after the $5 tickets sold out. But by Saturday morning, the buses were slightly under capacity. Andres Victoria, vice president of College Democrats, which lobbied SA for the buses, said the Syracuse men’s basketball game that took place Friday night might have discouraged some students from attending the march. He had received several texts earlier that night from people who bought bus tickets but changed their plans.

However, Victoria and several other members of the College Democrats prepared for the march for weeks, making signs during their weekly meetings to share with other participating students.

One of the three Syracuse Student Association sponsored busses crosses I83 with a view of the Market Street Bridge in the distance on its way to Washington DC for the March for Our Lives Rally.

“I’m most excited to go back home and see from the video footage, thousands of kids showing people who doubt us, who make fun of us, who think we are idiots that no, we have a voice, we are educated, and we want change,” Victoria said.

Sitting at the front of the bus was Alexis Abogado, a freshman from Washington, D.C. For this, her first demonstration, she made a sign listing a roster of mass shootings in black, followed by “No More” in red.

“I don’t really know what to expect,” Abogado said. “I’m excited. A little nervous, but more excited and empowered.”

A Syracuse student rests before arriving at Washington DC for the March for Our Lives rally. The trip from Upstate New York took about six and a half hours.
Avatar for Marina Fernandez de la Cuesta

is a contributor to The NewsHouse at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.