PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, was the deadliest school shooting in American history and prompted a student-led march on Washington for stricter gun laws. Titled March for Our Lives, the demonstration became one of the biggest youth-led protests since the Vietnam War.

On Monday, March 25, at Rhode Island College, two Stoneman Douglas High School students – Alex Wind, co-founder of March for Our Lives, and Tyah-Amoy Roberts, co-founder of STORM; and their AP government teacher Jeff Foster, credited with preparing his students to become activists, will join a forum titled “Make Way for Gen Z.”

Sponsored by the American Democracy Project (ADP) at Rhode Island College, this panel discussion will be held from 9:30-11:30 a.m. in Sapinsley Hall. More than 500 high school students in Rhode Island are expected. Media are welcome.

“This forum seeks to understand the new generation of political leaders and activists,” said ADP Director and Associate Professor of Communication Valerie Endress. “As they head into their 20s and into the 2020s, they will be challenged, as have previous generations, to find solutions to national and international problems.”

This forum asks, “What has forced Gen Z to take on the mantle of leadership so young? How does this affect their coming of age? What changes are they seeking and why? And, finally, what are their principle challenges as they seek a new vision and new ways of engaging in the political process?”

Deborah “Arnie” Arnesen, producer and radio host of “The Attitude” on WNHN 94.7 FM in Concord, New Hampshire, will moderate the discussion. Arnesen serves as a political analyst on WGBH Boston Public Radio and on various other radio stations. She describes herself as a politician in recovery, but politics and policy have been a constant in her life. Arnesen is a former fellow of the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics and a former member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. She was Democratic nominee in the Hew Hampshire 1992 gubernatorial race and ran for U.S. Congress in 1996.

Panelists are:

  • Jeff Foster, the only AP government teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Nearly all Stoneman Douglas students advocating for gun reform, including activist Emma González, were primed in Foster’s AP United States Government and Politics class.
  • Rey Junco, director of research at Tufts University’s Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. Junco is one of the foremost scholars on social media, youth and activism.
  • Rosa Ramos, a community activist and impact manager at City Year Providence.
  • Tyah-Amoy Roberts, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who co-founded Students Tactfully Organizing Revolutionary Movements. She is an ambassador for United State of Women and is on the executive council of Team Enough, a collective of young activists advocating for gun control.
  • Musah Mohammed Sesay, a senior at Classical High School in Providence who is co-plaintiff in a federal class action lawsuit on behalf of all Rhode Island public school students. The suit addresses the lack of civic education in underfunded high schools.
  • Alex Wind, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who co-founded March for Our Lives and the Never Again MSD campaign.

The goal of the ADP is to produce active, involved citizens in the community. Rhode Island College is the only institution of higher education in the state that participates in the ADP. Considered one of the leading programs in the country for political and civic engagement, ADP at RIC is often used as the model for initiatives by other colleges.

Established in 1854, Rhode Island College serves approximately 8,500 undergraduate and graduate students through its five schools: the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Feinstein School of Education and Human Development, the School of Business, the School of Nursing and the School of Social Work. For more information, visit www.ric.edu.