Student, turned away by adviser, forms gun reform group
OREM, Utah (AP) — A Utah high school student who was inspired by Parkland, Florida shooting survivors has started a community gun reform group after her attempts to start a school club were rejected by an adviser who said the club would have been too controversial.
Liz Romrell, 17, attends Timpanogos High School in the heart of conservative Utah County, the Salt Lake Tribune reported this week.
She originally wanted to form an affiliate March for Our Lives group at her school, but Timpanogos’ club adviser dismissed the club idea before she submitted the application.
The adviser told Romrell her club wouldn’t be approved because it was partisan and controversial, according to Romrell.
She formed the community group with encouragement from Parkland students who she met at a town hall in July in Sandy.
Her group, Students Advocating for Safer Schools, has members from four campuses in the Orem area.
Romrell likes the club’s freedom to make its own rules and not be tied down by school policies or requirements.
“It’s something that we can expand into a much larger thing,” she said. “We’re not powerless here. We have the ability to speak up and participate.”
Romrell also got support for group’s creation from Jeniel Zimmerman, a 17-year-old senior at Mountain View High, who also attended the March for Our Lives town hall.
She reached out to Romrell after the event and together, they came up with a name and a mission statement for their group.
It seeks to include student voices from various political viewpoints, promote ways to make campuses more secure with a focus on gun control, bolster anti-bullying programs and pressure the district to hire more psychologists and therapists, Zimmerman said.
“Safety is not political,” she said. “Just because you aren’t a victim of school violence doesn’t mean there isn’t real fear. But there are reasonable precautions we can take.”
Last week, Timpanogos’ principal, Joe Jensen, gave Romrell the green light to form her group at their school.
Jensen declined to comment.
Kimberly Bird, spokeswoman for Alpine School District, believes the adviser who talked with Romrell either misunderstood or was unaware that the district does not limit what types of groups can be formed.
Under Utah law, school districts cannot block clubs based on topic or ideology.
Romrell has decided she would rather continue working outside the school, especially since the deadline for forming school club has already passed.
Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com