One of the March For Our Lives movement’s most prominent leaders trashed a proposal to merge multiple Florida universities.
Emma González, a survivor of the Parkland mass shooting, now attends New College of Florida. On Tuesday, she posted on social media expressing why the school should stay independent and not be merged into the University of Florida or Florida State University.
“To the Florida representatives who are thinking about voting yes on the merger bill for New College — please don’t,” she tweeted. “It was borne of incredible, and I mean Incredible, stupidity. I couldn’t be in Tally to talk to you in person, but here is my testimony for you to read.”
Her post, which came the same day as a House committee vote on the merger, accompanied a lengthy statement about the school.
In it, she described her own first visit to New College, complete with the revelation it marked the first day she bled through a tampon, along with a list of attributed that led her to apply.
She was accepted into the liberal arts school three days before a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School left 17 dead. González in the wake of the national news story became one of the nation’s top voices demanding reform for gun laws. She now has 1.6 million followers on Twitter and a penchant for making headlines.
“Walking back to the car I told my mom, ‘I know we still have to figure out money and everything before we can talk about me going here,’” González recalled, “and she hastened to tell me that New College was a Public school, which meant that my Florida Prepaid and the Bright Futures scholarship, that I had worked so hard for during high school, would make my college education cost less than my textbooks.”
She goes on to say New College became her first and only choice for high school.
González doesn’t directly raise the trauma of surviving Parkland and losing friends there. But she does discuss how the school’s use of an evaluation system instead of grades allows for a nurturing environment to students living through the stress of modern high school and middle school.
“I have never had any interest in studying at an Ivy League or going to a university where the student population is 50,000,” González wrote.
“I wanted a place where I could be given countless and personalized opportunities: to push for an Arabic class to be taught, which my friends I helped make happen, where I could go to parties on the weekend where all we do is make dinner and listen to Janelle Monae, where I could leave my laptop on a table in the library for an hour unwatched and know that no one’s gonna take it, where I could drop out of Spanish one day and take up Latin the next, where I could never have to take a math class and still graduate.”
That happens at New College largely through the fact it operate independently from other schools.
It’s also been important to González personally as she continues using a political platform provided through surviving a tragedy.
“Not only have I been able to speak one on one with professors about upcoming absences related to my activism, but I have also been given credit for it, like when March For Our Lives hosted the Gun Safety and Violence Prevention Democratic Presidential forum in Las Vegas last October, or working in my spare time on the Zine about youth activism and gun violence prevention that March For Our Lives just published last week.”
She calls the merger proposal, first pushed less than three weeks ago by Rep. Randy Fine, as a “horrible idea” with the potential to “destroy our school.”
“I know that it’s supposed to save money, and help the big universities that we would be merged get brought up in the national rankings for good schooling,” she wrote, “but who don’t you just have them adopt some of our practices rather than forcing us under their systemically problematic hierarchies.”
To the Florida representatives who are thinking about voting yes on the merger bill for New College – please don’t. It was borne of incredible, and I mean Incredible, stupidity. I couldn’t be in Tally to talk to you in person, but here is my testimony for you to read. pic.twitter.com/18upjCydWM
— Emma González (@Emma4Change) February 25, 2020