Medical Students Take a Stand Against Gun Violence
More than 100 Tufts medical students came together yesterday against gun violence on the one-week anniversary of the deadly shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Teron Nezwek, M20, organized the rally at the Jaharis Courtyard to encourage health-care professionals to draw attention to gun violence as a public-health crisis. His own personal shock and grief at the Florida massacre spurred him to plan the gathering— he is a 2011 graduate of MSD High School, and his sister is currently a junior there.
He asked his classmates to wear their white coats for a group photograph to be posted on social media with the tag #whitecoatsagainstgunviolence. Nezwek also brought a poster bearing photographs of the seventeen victims for Tufts students to sign. He plans to mail it to his sister so she can bring it to school when MSD High School reopens. “She’s going through a lot,” Nezwek said. “But knowing that there are people up here in Boston thinking about her and her community makes her feel better.”
Nezwek, who is pursuing a dual M.D./M.B.A. in health management, said he was heartened by the turnout. “It was phenomenal,” he said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better event.” Students and faculty spoke, including Sackler School dean Daniel Jay; dean for educational affairs Scott Epstein; and Aviva Must, dean of public health and professional degree programs.
“More than 30,000 people are killed with guns in the U.S. every year,” Nezwek said in his own remarks. “The government spends only about $22 million a year on research into gun violence. This dwarfs in comparison to funding for other major health threats such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, where funding is in excess of $10 billion dollars . . . I hope that you leave understanding this: Gun violence is a public health crisis that takes thousands of lives each year. And we, as future health providers, have a duty to address it.”
Nezwek thanked the School of Medicine’s dean for student affairs, Amy Kuhlik, and others who helped him mobilize the rally on short notice. He is also working with Kuhlik to organize a forum in coming weeks for students and faculty to have a “serious debate about what we can do, as physicians, to prevent future tragedies.”
Laura Ferguson can be reached at email@example.com.