Across the United States and Canada, Rockers declared their support for the March for Our Lives movement by marching, rallying, and speaking out on March 24.
Bard College at Simon’s Rock students, faculty, and staff attended the sibling event held in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, while alumni in at least 10 states and one in Toronto attended local and regional events, among the over 800 marches around the country. Rockers also represented at the March for Our Lives in Washington, DC, which organizers estimate drew 800,000 in what could likely be the largest single-day protest in the nation’s capital.
In Pittsfield’s Park Square, the public was invited to share their stories and viewpoints. The crowd heard from educators, parents and grandparents, voters, veterans, and mental health professionals. However, it was the words spoken by multiple high school and college students that resonated through a crowd of hundreds.
Among the student voices were six proud Rockers: first year Indie Beare, sophomores Ankur Chakrabarti Roybarman, Zoe Nadig, Noelle Iati, and Moamer Alsaedi, and senior Danya Tracht. Read what some of them had to say in The Berkshire Edge article.
Moamer created a Facebook group that provided a forum for students and alumni to connect. Moamer noted that Simon’s Rock students marched in Baltimore, Los Angeles, New York City, Seattle, and Washington, DC before returning from spring break. “It was breathtaking to witness alumni and students sharing their experiences of empowerment, community, and social activism, while supporting and encouraging each other on social media.”
Sara Mugridge, academic transitions advisor for the College and Bard Academy, has been supporting the efforts of the student organizers and helping facilitate connections with Berkshire and alumni communities. “Hearing the students speak in Pittsfield and standing up was pretty powerful.”
Nora Ludden '92 Represents in Washington, DC.
For many Rockers, it’s personal; the 1992 tragedy at Simon’s Rock will never be forgotten. Amanda Rosenberger ’90 spoke at her local rally in Cookeville, Tennessee. “I’ve held on to my love of learning, but I am far from wholly healed. … Let’s keep our school campuses as much as we can a place of safety, of learning, of hope, and growth, not pain, not trauma, not insecurity, not aggression, and not terrible, irretrievable loss.”
Nora Ludden ’92 attended the march in Washington, DC, where she shared some of her memories with The Washington Post. Nora was one of many Simon’s Rock alumni who signed a petition demanding “more access to mental health services and less access to weapons” following Sandy Hook.
Juliana Biro ’08 attended a march in Parkland, Florida in a show of solidarity for the Simon’s Rock community. Lynn Kolk-Mulheron ’86 pledged to write and call her legislators in Alaska that day.
Simon’s Rock students have successfully lobbied for change in the past. In a demonstration of student activism in April 1993, Rocker Anne Thalheimer ’91 joined several Simon’s Rock students and faculty members in lobbying the Massachusetts State House to change the law so that nonresidents would be subject to the same 30-day waiting period as residents when purchasing firearms in Massachusetts. It took over three years, but a new law passed and went into effect on September 30, 1996. Anne is now an Everytown Survivor Fellow working with Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. She was invited to speak at the Pioneer Valley March for Our Lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.
David Waller ’72, who marched in Washington, DC, recalled that in 1973, a cohort of students planned to travel to the nation’s capitol to protest the Vietnam War at President Richard Nixon’s inauguration, but transportation issues prevented the trip. The Associated Press reported that March for Our Lives was one of the biggest youth protests since the Vietnam War.
In November 1983, members of the student organization Community Action Network arranged transportation for 28 people from Simon’s Rock to attend a march in Washington, DC to protest United States involvement in Central America and the Caribbean. On April 9, 1989, approximately 40 Simon’s Rock students participated in the March for Women’s Equality, Women’s Lives in Washington, DC, joining 750,000 women, and men, supporting women’s issues.
In March 2003, when the Iraq War began, there was strong antiwar sentiment on campus. Dean of Faculty Don Roeder said in the Llama Ledger, “I want a place where those other views can be heard. It’s our duty to create an environment conducive to all points of view.” Discussions, a debate, and a teach-in were held, and Rockers protested in New York City and Boston.
Simon’s Rock students have planned a walkout on April 20 to coincide with the National Student Walkout, held on the 19th anniversary of Columbine. Students will walk out of class and gather in Great Barrington, where they hope to join other schools and groups.
First-year student Colleen Spear presented the idea for a walkout during a closed door conversation at the Owl’s Nest, the campus Social Justice and Culture Center. She is one of three peer mentors in the Owl’s Nest who, under the guidance of the Council for Equity and Inclusion (CEI), encourage a dialogue among students who may have concerns related to social justice, equity, and inclusion, and work to understand and address campus issues.
Colleen said that right before spring break, several members of CEI started planning the walkout, and over the two-week break, plans came together via many email exchanges. “We wanted to make Simon’s Rock a part of the national conversation.”
Simon’s Rock has always been a supportive community, even in times of protest. Faculty and staff, and especially CEI—which works to create, build, and support a welcoming environment at the College—are supporting and encouraging the students’ activism. Faculty member Anne O’Dwyer, who attended the Pittsfield march, was impressed by what the students had to say, and is proud that on April 20, they will again “demand that their views and concerns be taken seriously.”
Jacob Fossum, assistant professor of painting and drawing, has offered to host a poster and button making session in the painting studio for students participating in the walkout.