The Wayne State University Board of Governors voted unanimously over the weekend to declare the first week of February as National Gun Violence Survivors Week. The action was taken following a request at the Jan. 29 meeting by Megan Dombrowski, president of the WSU Students Demand Action of Gun Sense in America group.
The board will ratify its vote and consider if the designation will be recurring at its March 12 meeting. WSU first commemorated National Gun Violence Survivors Week last year, to honor and remember all victims and survivors of gun violence. National Gun Violence Survivors Week is also recognized by the State of Michigan, following a proclamation by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
“WSU Students Demand Action is incredibly grateful for the Board of Governors reaffirming their commitment to recognizing gun violence as the public health crisis it is, and we are proud to be apart of the Wayne State community that works to honor, uplift, and empower survivors of gun violence,” said Megan Dombrowski, a second-year student majoring in political science.
The gun death rate in the United States is 11 times greater than that of other high-income countries, and the gun violence crisis continues to be intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Gun violence is an all-too-common occurrence here in Detroit and in our nation,” said Marilyn Kelly, chair of the WSU Board of Governors. “The board respects our students’ initiative in raising awareness of this issue and in honoring those lives lost to gun violence. We are proud to stand with our students.”
Students Demand Action will share survivors’ stories and encouraging allies to help amplify their voices. The week will center around the Moments That Survive website, where Americans across the country will share the defining details of their own experiences, in their own words, about the objects, places, or actions that have taken a new meaning after enduring gun violence. The site shares photos, videos and testimonials from survivors, their families, and communities.
“Every year, thousands of people in the United States are subject to senseless gun violence. The survivors of gun violence have their lives permanently altered. As a survivor of gun violence myself, I find peace in this week where I can share stories with people who have been in similar situations,” said Jenna Bowker, a third-year student majoring in statistics and psychology, who is a member of WSU Students Demand Action. “This week is a celebration of the lives of the have lost, and a reminder that we can’t stop fighting for an end to gun violence.”
Barbara L. Jones, community dispute resolution specialist and faculty instructor for the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, serves as the faculty advisor for WSU Students Demand Action, and is also a victim/co-survivor of gun violence.
“My only son Conte was murdered while he was at work on Oct. 30, 2017, shot seven times with a semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifle with .22 caliber bullets. I have personal, firsthand experience as a mother, a survivor bearing witness to the unnecessary and lethal suffering as the result of gun violence,” Jones said. “Survivors and families of gun violence are often forgotten about, not supported or ignored when dealing with a lifetime of harm, trauma, grief and everything that comes with it. It’s not an issue that’s easy to tackle, and I'm honored and proud to work among a community that uplifts survivor support and advocacy.
A scholarship has been established in Conte’s memory through the Center for Peace and Conflict to support transformational and visionary change related to peaceful conflict resolution and intervention. The $2,500 award is open to WSU students who have experienced gun violence and/or are survivors of gun violence; applications are open through March 1, 2021. Learn more about the Conte’ Emanuel Smith-El Annual Scholarship here.
For more information about WSU Students Demand Action, visit their Instagram or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The full proclamation is as follows:
GUN VIOLENCE SURVIVORS WEEK PROCLAMATION
DECLARING THE WEEK OF FEBRUARY 1, 2020 TO FEBRUARY 8, 2021 TO MARK NATIONAL GUN VIOLENCE SURVIVOR WEEK
This proclamation declares the week of February 1, 2020, to February 8, 2021, to be National Gun Violence Survivor Week on Wayne State University campus to honor and remember all victims and survivors of gun violence and uplift the resilient voices of survivors across the nation.
WHEREAS, every year, over 36,000 Americans are killed in acts of gun violence and 73,000 more are shot and wounded;
WHEREAS, by early February, more Americans are killed with guns than are killed in our peer countries in an entire calendar year;
WHEREAS, a gun violence survivor is anyone who has personally experienced gun violence — whether you have witnessed an act of gun violence, been threatened or wounded with a gun, or had someone you know and cared for wounded or killed;
WHEREAS, forms of gun violence can include, but are not limited to: gun suicides, gun homicides, domestic violence involving a gun, shootings by law enforcement, and unintentional shootings;
WHEREAS, 58 percent of American adults or someone they care for has experienced gun violence in their lifetime, demonstrating the reach and impact gun violence has in communities across America;
WHEREAS, firearms are the second leading cause of death for children and teens;
WHEREAS, Americans in communities across the nation are working to end the senseless violence by advocating for common-sense gun safety legislation;
WHEREAS, by commemorating National Gun Violence Survivors Week on February 1 to February 8, communities across America will raise awareness about gun violence and honor the lives stolen by gun violence; and
WHEREAS, we renew our commitment to reduce gun violence and pledge to do all we can to keep firearms out of the wrong hands and encourage responsible gun ownership to help keep our communities safe.
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Wayne State University Board of Governors declares February 1 to February 8, 2021 to be Gun Violence Survivors Week. We encourage all students to support their communities’ efforts to prevent the tragic effects of gun violence and to honor and value human lives.