David Hogg speaks on student activism and long-term hopes for gun control movement


Daily file photo by Zoe Malin

David Hogg speaks at Beth Emet The Free Synagogue in Evanston in 2019. The gun control activist spoke virtually to Northwestern students about how student activism can affect America’s political future.

Joshua Perry, Reporter

David Hogg , a gun control activist and survivor of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018, discussed the power of student activism at a Tuesday webinar.

Hosted by Northwestern College Democrats, Hogg, a Harvard University sophomore, took questions from the audience and recounted how the shooting’s aftermath propelled him onto his current path as an advocate for gun control.

The political influence of young people has been significant, especially over the past four years, he said.

“We’ve established more of our power, and we’ve not just asked for a seat at the table, we’ve built a new table in many ways, and forced our way onto the tables that already existed,” he said.

Through organizing and engaging with grassroots organizations, Hogg said students can help contribute to the fight against gun violence and issues closely linked to it, including systemic racism.

Advocating for gun control in America is a huge challenge, Hogg said, and it’s not a battle that can just be fought in a Twitter bubble. But after talking to hundreds of Americans, Hogg said he is optimistic about the way public opinion can shift on issues like gun control.

“From working with people across the country — young people, even older people, and from so many different communities and places — I know that it’s possible,” Hogg said. “And I really am truly hopeful for the future, even though I’m sure many of us aren’t necessarily, especially given the past year.”

Weinberg sophomore and NU College Democrats events planner Matthew Norambuena said he appreciated that Hogg highlighted intersections between gun control and other social justice issues.

Norambuena also said he agrees with Hogg about the power of student activism.

“We know how to engage on the ground, we know how to get on social media, we know how to talk to people who disagree with us,” Norambuena said. “Any change we’re going to see in this country is going to come from us.”

Medill sophomore and NU College Democrats public relations director Ben Chasen said the group invited Hogg because they wanted students to hear from a peer and understand the impact of student activism.

Chasen said activism already has a place on NU’s campus, pointing to the recent resignation of Mike Polisky following demonstrations and pushback from the NU community against his appointment to athletic director.

“I’ve been impressed with how Northwestern students have done that in the past year,” Chasen said. “They’ve made an incredible impact and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens going forward.”

Hogg said it’s difficult for young people to lead this kind of charge. Advocating for legislation or a political cause such as gun control can feel like “running an ultramarathon,” and it’s important to approach the work in stride to avoid burnout, he said.

Seeking positive, progressive change is difficult, Hogg said, when those in positions of power will not. But he thinks student activists can make it happen.

“Unfortunately, these moments when young people have to lead — it’s not a good sign for society,” Hogg said. “But we’ve seen throughout history how people meet the moment.”

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Twitter: @joshdperry

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