Letter to the Editor | Thursday, April 12, 2018
My name is Cecelia Klimek, and I am a current first-year student at Saint Mary’s College. I have thoroughly enjoyed my first year at Saint Mary’s and greatly look forward to my next three years here. The thing I love most about Saint Mary’s is our strong community which fosters a culture that is respectful of human life and dignity. However, I find the upcoming lecture by Antonia Okafor to be anything but respectful of human life.
It has not even been two months since the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, a shooting that has drastically affected the lives of so many Americans, and already Saint Mary’s is allowing an NRA-endorsed, pro-gun rights speaker to come to campus. Okafor advocates for concealed carry on college campuses and for use of the AR-15 assault rifle, which has been used in many of the mass shootings in the United States including at Parkland, Florida, and the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. In both events, teachers and students, targeted by the perpetrators, did not stand a chance against the AR-15.
Heather Sher, a radiologist in Florida who helped treat the victims of the Stoneman Douglas shooting, said this of the AR-15 rifle: “The reaction in the emergency room was the same. One of the trauma surgeons opened a young victim in the operating room and found only shreds of the organ that had been hit by a bullet from an AR-15, a semi-automatic rifle which delivers a devastatingly lethal, high-velocity bullet to the victim. There was nothing left to repair, and utterly, devastatingly, nothing that could be done to fix the problem. The injury was fatal.”
I do not understand how Saint Mary’s plans to host a woman who advocates for the use and implementation of such lethal assault-style rifles to speak on campus. I understand that Okafor considers herself to be a feminist, and Saint Mary’s strongly supports a culture of feminism, where men and women are recognized as equals based on their intrinsic value as human beings, all possessing dignity. However, the use of the AR-15 and implementation of concealed carry of such lethal weapons on college campuses has absolutely nothing to do with feminism.
Feminism respects and supports the dignity of all human life. Therefore, I do not understand why the College has allowed a woman to come speak whose beliefs, financed by pro-gun organizations, are so decidedly against its own ideals. I fail to understand how someone, who advocates for the use of semi-automatic, extremely lethal assault rifles, can respect and revere human life when those targeted by her preferred weapon of choice, the AR-15 rifle, lose their own lives. Many of the victims in the past mass shootings across America, particularly those in schools, have been educators who devoted their lives to enabling children to increase in wisdom and to gain knowledge. Many Saint Mary’s alumnae have gone on to become educators in schools around the United States. My own mother, aunt and grandmother, all alumnae of the College, have, and still do, work as educators. These Belles now put their lives on the line every day by going to work and teaching. I cannot fathom losing anyone who graduated from my college to an AR-15 rifle. However, that is a very real possibility when people like Okafor are given such an audience and platform.
Therefore, I find her invitation to speak on our campus extremely disrespectful and diametrically opposed to the principles of a pro-life college, such as Saint Mary’s, wherein human life is revered and viewed with dignity so as not to be carelessly and shamelessly disregarded. Her support of the AR-15 rifle is repugnant to the sanctity of human life. The AR-15 is used to slaughter humans in its path, and her invitation to Saint Mary’s by Young Americans for Freedom is extremely inconsiderate and insensitive to all victims of gun violence and those of us opposed to it.
For the record, I do not agree with Okafor’s invitation to Saint Mary’s College and I hope that going forward, the administration gives more thought to whom it offers a platform where issues of life and dignity are concerned. For my part, I plan to support the rights of those who cannot speak as they are no longer with us and protest this speaker’s presence on a campus that I have grown to call home.
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.