The Stoneman Douglas High School shooting took place on Valentines Day, Feb. 14, 2018. The shooting left 17 high-schoolers injured and 17 tragically murdered. Aubrey Dosky, a junior majoring in political science, was one of the millions who were outraged by the appalling event, so much so that she decided to begin the March For Our Lives chapter at Virginia Tech.
As Dosky scrolled through Twitter in the aftermath of the shooting, she was shocked to see the students post videos of the scene. “Before, you would hear about (shootings), but you would never actually see it,” Dosky said. The videos and the brave students who came forward to speak about the tragedy received backlash. “People were getting so mad at these kids for posting it, because it’s very graphic, but we’ve become so desensitized that I think we almost need to see that,” Dosky said. “It made me realize there is a huge issue.” It forced people to reconcile with a tragedy that has unfortunately become all too frequent.
Upon coming to Virginia Tech, Dosky scrolled through the lengthy GobblerConnect pages in search for a March For Our Lives chapter only to have no success. “The only other club on GobblerConnect is Students for Concealed Carry on Campus,” Dosky said. “We’re hoping to partner with them at some point. We want to do an opposing viewpoint meeting, because March For Our Lives is nonpartisan; We want to get that across, because it can come across as a liberal organization, but it’s not.”
Given Tech’s history with gun violence, Dosky was shocked to realize that no club existed that was even relevant to the topic. It was just over a decade ago on April 16, 2007, that 32 students were killed outside of Tech’s Norris Hall and West Ambler Johnston Hall: a tragedy that has infamously gone down not only in Hokie history, but U.S. history as well.
Dosky was inspired to continue the March For Our Lives movement to prevent shootings like those in Parkland or at Virginia Tech in the future. She then decided to gather two friends to begin Virginia Tech’s very own March For Our Lives chapter.
While March For Our Lives approved a chapter at Virginia Tech relatively quickly, it took Dosky until November of 2019 to get approved recognition as an on-campus club. March For Our Lives' mission is to save lives from being lost to senseless gun violence. The organization focuses heavily on legislation and garnering the attention of the youth vote by hosting various booths around campus, such as the Pledge to Vote event in Squires on Feb. 28.
Currently, they have 35-40 members, but she feels as if active participation is somewhat discouraging. “It takes a lot for someone to have dedication to a club, especially this one knowing you could get backlash,” Dosky said.
The organization itself has received hate on social media, especially on its Twitter @MFOLVT; all hate comments have come from people unaffiliated with Tech. “I’m constantly in communication with our national team/state directors, so whenever we do a Twitter storm, when all the chapters are tweeting and putting hashtags, we’re more of a target,” Dosky said.
She notes that it’s difficult to make progress when others are unwilling to listen. “I’ll listen to your side if you listen to mine,” Dosky said. This, however, is difficult when all such contact is over social media.
The biggest misconception regarding March For Our Lives is that the club is a partisan left-leaning organization that seeks to abolish the Second Amendment, which it is not. Given that the 2020 election is coming soon, Dosky said in response, “We don’t want to take away your gun rights; we just want it in a safe manner.”
Despite the misunderstandings and the backlash, Dosky is proud that she was able to bring the chapter to Tech in the first place; the organization’s existence sends a message in itself, especially considering the violence here only 13 years ago.
“Just knowing that we have (a chapter) here, that’s, to me, an accomplishment all on its own, because if any school should have one it should be this one,” Dosky said. I don’t know why we didn’t. I’m proud that we offered another perspective to students if they want it.”