STORM LAKE, Iowa | While students led many of the school walk-out protests held across the nation on Wednesday, some professors took the lead in leaving class ahead of their students.
Andrea Frantz, professor of digital media at Buena Vista University, was one. Frantz posted her intentions on Facebook, signalling her plan to support students, teachers, administrators and staff members across the country in remembering victims of mass shootings in schools while also paying heed to the ills of gun violence in our society.
"Today at 10 a.m. I'll be outside for 17 minutes," she wrote. "I'm walking out on my own class because I care about my students -- ALL students. And I believe the power of free speech can make social change."
Frantz's advanced audio production class began at 10 a.m. She informed the class that she wouldn't be there until 10:18 a.m.
She left BVU's Lage Communications Center and walked east across the street to join a group of students, professors, administrators and staff members assembling south of Smith Hall. While there, education professors, among others, led the group in reading names of those killed in mass shootings at schools in Florida, Nevada and Connecticut.
The protest came one month since a mass shooting left 17 dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Across the country, groups converged in a grass-roots fashion, largely stitched together by young people who seek a dual purpose: Remember those killed while carrying a message to lawmakers about violence.
At Buena Vista, professors read names of victims, specifically selecting the names from school shootings at Parkland, Columbine High School (Colorado) and Sandy Hook Elementary School (Connecticut) as a means to illustrate this as a school issue.
"They also listed off many, many school shootings that have happened in K-12 schools across the nation since 2009," Frantz said. "The list was sobering."
Several students in Frantz's 10 a.m. class participated. The class then resumed, as she'd promised.
"I feel very, very strongly that we are a nation in crisis right now and that has to do with the prevalence of violence we're seeing in schools, churches, malls and other places," she said. "This has to do with a lack of funding for mental health care and the easy access to assault weapons."