In response to the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a collaboration between the Office of Diversity Programming, the Women’s Center and the Center for Community Engaged Learning (CCEL) brought together a group of students and faculty to discuss the impact of school shootings and how to react and prevent the desensitization to mass casualty events.

One of the student coordinators, Aisha Khiyaty (‘21) said, “A lot of students didn’t have the opportunity to talk about it in class and a lot of students were interested […] and so I felt that a program would be appropriate.”

Self-identified as the SNHU Response Team, Aisha Khiyaty, Ruby Murphy, Isabel Thorne and Emily McSweeney worked to collaborate between their three offices. The students organized a different type of event where students could not only express their feelings but discuss and debate solutions to the issue of how to prevent the school shooting from becoming another statistic and desensitizing the public to school shootings.

Throughout the event, students discussed sensitive topics relating to gun control, social/public advocacy and emergency preparedness. When the topic of gun control was raised, “everyone was really respectful of each other,” Khiyaty said.

All views on the issues were heard and Khiyaty mentioned, “I like hearing the different views and I like hearing that people can get along without having to create this as a political issue because it’s a people’s issue.”

Student and faculty response to the event was positive with many stating that they enjoyed the openness and respect of the fellow students. After the event, student attendee Harlem Quinones (‘18) mentioned, “I thought the event was great. I really enjoyed hearing everyone’s opinions and contributions because I think this is a very important topic that needs to be talked about. As a Penmen, I felt proud hearing what my fellow students had to say and how they feel about it as well as talking about what we can do to help the cause.”

The team has said that they will continue to offer opportunities for those to discuss the traumatic experiences.

Additionally, the Wellness Center on campus offers confidential counseling for anyone who may need assistance processing the recent traumatic events or need assistance with anxiety around these complicated and emotional incidents.

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