University of Wisconsin and Madison community members gathered at Library Mall Wednesday evening for a vigil honoring the lives lost in last week’s shooting that killed 17 in Parkland, Florida.

Teenagers and adults stood together in below freezing temperatures to listen to UW students, Marjory Stoneman Douglas Parkland alumnus and gun violence prevention advocates. UW student Jordan Madden, the host of the event, set the tone by speaking on the danger of gun violence that many people across the country have to deal with. 

“I am reminded of how high the stakes really are for a lot of people in America,” Madden said.

After Parkland shooting, Soglin calls for municipalities to have more power over gun lawsMayor Paul Soglin held a press conference Tuesday to express his support for the victims of the Parkland school shooting Read…

Throughout the following hour, individuals impacted directly or indirectly by the Parkland shooting took turns addressing the crowd through a megaphone. They spoke about how special MSD was, as well as the importance of unity and activism in the wake of the tragedy.

Lauren Goldberg, UW sophomore and MSD alumna, fought back tears while she shared her reaction to the shooting.

“This was not supposed to happen, not in Parkland, not in any high school in the U.S., but it did,” Goldberg said. “Not close to home, it was home.”

Goldberg lauded the activism demonstrated by survivors like Emma Gonzalez, who recently gave a speech passionately criticizing lawmakers and gun advocates. Goldberg’s sentiments were echoed by other speakers, who spoke about the shock and devastation they felt.

After Parkland shooting, Soglin calls for municipalities to have more power over gun lawsMayor Paul Soglin held a press conference Tuesday to express his support for the victims of the Parkland school shooting Read…

Despite this, the speakers like MSD alumnus and UW sophomore Zach Kaufman emphasized the importance of unity and activism in the wake of this tragedy, though political division may prove legislation change to be difficult.

“There will be disagreements on what specific policy is best, however we are all united in our pursuit of protection and our love for humanity,” Zach Kaufman said.

Many vigil attendees shed tears during the speeches, which was followed by a silent march toward the Capital. This march symbolized a demand for policy change to be enacted in the community, according to the event’s Facebook page.

UW professor of entomology Daniel Young came as an educator, a father and someone who believes in stricter gun laws.

“I’m wondering, ‘what do I do if something happens in one of my classrooms?’” Young said. “I’m here to be with everyone else […] and to hopefully stand together and do some things that will make some changes.”