Editor's note: Josh Ratel-Khan is an employee at The McKinley Avenue Agency, part of the Unified Media Alliance. 

“This past week has been traumatic,” said Ball State freshman Alexia Angel, a 2017 graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. 

“I knew Carmen,” said Angel. “I know a lot of my best friends lost their best friends.

“Aaron Feist, I was very close with his family and his wife. He was the security guard — unarmed security guard. You would think he should be armed, but he wasn’t.” 

In the wake of the Parkland, Florida, tragedy, Ball State freshman Darla Thomas is organizing a campus walkout March 14 at 10 a.m.

Thomas said the plan for the walkout correlates with the Women’s March Youth EMPOWER’s plan to hold a national school walkout for 17 minutes — one minute for each student killed. 

Thomas decided to plan this protest after gaining support on a Twitter post. 

She followed up on Twitter by posting three polls, the first asking how many students would take part in the walk out, then asking where the walkout should happen and finally asking why students would not take part in the protest. 

Of the 635 votes responding to the first question, 64 percent of respondents said they would participate. 

Fifty eight percent of the 486 who answered the second question voted the protest should take place at Shafer Bell Tower. However, university protest policy only allows protests at LaFollette Field, University Green or The Quad, so Thomas plans to host the protest at University Green. 

“I notice there’s a lot of people that walk around there in the morning because the Atrium is right there and people are coming from dorms, and I think that’s a really populated area in the morning, so one it will get a lot of traction,” Thomas said. 

In her last poll, 59 percent of students said they wouldn’t take part in the protest because they have class during that time. 

The whole point of it being a walkout is to walk out of class, Thomas said. However, she labeled this protest as a “walkout” in accordance with the Women’s March national walkout plan, not necessarily because she wants students to walk out of class. 

Thomas also believes by naming this protest a “walkout,” her specific protest would be more likely to show up in search engines or on social media. 

When Thomas posted the walkout as an event on Facebook, Angel’s roommate saw the event and encouraged her to reach out. 

“It’s good to know that people who aren’t affected are standing with Stoneman Douglas,” Angel said. “The least it will do is show that these kids here, all the way here in Indiana, are supporting them.” 

BSU Democrats, a student political organization, reached out to Thomas through Facebook Messenger to partner with her for the event.

“We talked about wanting to start this initiative on Ball State’s campus and then I was looking on Twitter and I somehow came across that she was organizing something … and so I thought, ‘I don’t want to create another event that would conflict with hers,’” said Josh Ratel-Khan, co-president of BSU Democrats. “I thought it would be better if we could team up and view it as one, that way we could get the most amount of people involved.” 

Thomas said she’s thankful the organization reached out to her because it has the resources to help her make this protest big. At the same time, however, she was skeptical about affiliating her protest with a political group.

“I don’t want this to necessarily be Democrats versus Republicans, people arguing back and forth, but I’m afraid it’s going to become that if we become paired with a group that represents that political party,” Thomas said.

“It’s not as though our group is going to use this tragedy to bolster the Democrat’s name just in itself. The activism will specifically be focusing on gun reform legislation,” said Ratel-Khan, in response.

Thomas and BSU Democrats have yet to file a request to protest with the University because they are trying to work out the kinks in the plan. Ratel-Khan said the two would most likely file a request to protest after BSU Democrats’ next executive board meeting. 

Meanwhile, Angel will return home to Parkland over spring break.

“I was going to go to New York over spring break, but I changed my ticket to home, so I’ll be there,” she said. “I don’t know necessarily what my friends need me personally to do but I do know I am going to be there for them and be strong for them in any way that I can.” 

Contact Hannah Gunnell with comments at hrgunnell@bsu.edu.