In the aftermath of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, there was no shortage of acute connections between the NYU Community and the victims of the tragedy. The NYU Office of Global Spiritual Life worked with current NYU students to organize a vigil for the victims and survivors on Thursday, February 22, at 5 p.m.; the gathering was at capacity on the inner steps of NYU’s Kimmel Center.
NYU Stern undergraduate Dakota Damiani felt the effects of the Parkland shooting with particular sharpness. She attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas for high school, and has siblings currently enrolled there. She worked with NYU’s Global Center for Academic and Spiritual Life (GCASL) staff to set up the vigil.
“I realized how far this shooting’s reach really was and decided there was a community here who’d also like to be with others, and grieve over/honor those that we lost. I think [the vigil] was pretty effective in doing so,” she said. “Many people came up to me thanking me for putting it together [… but] I was just doing what everyone at home was also doing.”
Damiani expressed a hope that members of the NYU community would recognize their ability to use their platform to move the needle on the issue of gun reform; one such method, she suggested, would be attendance at the March for our Lives in Washington, D.C. on March 24.
“To be completely honest, the best thing [NYU] can do for me is support my community in its efforts to push for sensible gun laws,” Damiani said. “I want my NYU peers to understand that there needs to be reform. I’m not saying I want to see a ban on all guns, but I do believe that there should be a ban on assault rifles and any extensions that make guns automatic.”
Damiani is hopeful that the outreach that she and her community have been organizing will sway the opinions of politicians currently holding office—namely, those who have voting records that show an aversion to supporting gun reform.
“We are in New York City. If we make enough noise, we can help make a difference,” said Damiani. “There are New York representatives in office currently that have voted against gun reforms… if we can change their minds that’d be huge. Every vote at this point counts. We just need to speak up and support the movement. I’ll be attending the March on the 24th, I urge my classmates to do the same.”