News

Students ask, "What If LVC?"

Written by Daniel Walmer/Lebanon Daily News | Dec 9, 2015 10:22 AM
LVC_lebanon_valley_college.jpg

Molly Gertenbach a Lebanon Valley College senior from Reinholds paints a banner as they prepare a display in Lynch Memorial Hall on Sunday, December 6, 2015. Jeremy Long, Lebanon Daily News

Group hung bullets to spur dialogue on gun safety

(Annville) -- What if the Oct. 1 mass shooting at Umpqua Community College didn't happen in Oregon, but in Pennsylvania? What if it happened in Lebanon County?

What if a gunman opened fire at Lebanon Valley College - right here, right now?

That's the question four college students asked by hanging a display of bullets like an "eerie windchime" Monday in front of the large common area at Lynch Memorial Hall, part of a campaign to inform, prod, and startle their classmates into wondering "What If LVC?"

"We want to push buttons," said group member Molly Gertenbach, a senior from Reinholds.

But this isn't a campaign by gun-control activists, the students emphasized. They have different political perspectives on gun control but agree that banning all guns isn't realistically going to be the answer to reducing violence in the United States.

Neither is maintaining the status quo, according to senior Matthew Healy of Fort Covington, N.Y., who said his family owns guns but understands the importance of firearm safety.

Instead of pointing fingers at each other, the students are asking people to come together respectfully to find solutions.

"There is no one who wants kids to be dying on school campuses," said group member Zane Brown, a senior from Silver Spring, Md.

LVC_guns_safety_lebanon_valley.jpg

Zane Brown, a Lebanon Valley College senior from Silver Spring, MD, Elizabeth Allebach a LVC junior from East Greenville, PA and Matt Healy a LVC senior from Fort Covington, NY, glue fishing line to bullet casings as they prepare a display in Lynch Memorial Hall on Sunday, December 6, 2015. (Jeremy Long, Lebanon Daily News)

While displays of bullets can be stunning, so are the stark facts of rising gun violence in America listed on the "@WhatIfLVC" Twitter account. For example, there were about 11,000 people killed by guns in 2011 and just 17 killed by terrorism in 2011, according to statistics from the U.S. Justice Department's Council on Foreign Relations.

"We're the real terrorists here in our own country, killing each other," said Elizabeth Allebach, a junior from East Greenville. "Everyone tweets, 'our thoughts and prayers are with San Bernardino, California, our thoughts and prayers are with Sandy Hook,' but why don't we put our thoughts into something we can do here, rather than just tweeting about it?"

The students also hope to generate conversation on the college's emergency evacuation policies and procedures, about which they are provided with little information, she said.

The "What If LVC" campaign started as a project for a corporate branding class in which the four digital communications majors were asked to pursue "guerrilla marketing" - the strategy of eschewing traditional media for marketing tactics that immerse and surprise people in their daily lives.

Hence the hanging bullets that represent victims of mass shootings, just the first of multiple public displays related to gun violence they plan to create. They also launched a Twitter account with 582 followers and a Facebook page with 118 likes and will poll students on their attitudes towards campus safety and gun violence.

So far, the guerilla marketing campaign may be working. Almost everyone who passed the display Monday morning stopped to look at it and gave the students mostly positive feedback, Allebach said.

"People were happy to see someone taking as stand," she said.

The group decided to ask for forgiveness rather than permission from college administration, but received word Monday that campus officials will allow the display of bullets to remain standing, she said.

While the "What If LVC" campaign started as a class project, the students said they hope to continue it, possibly as a campus club.

Tagged under , , , , , , , , , , ,

back to top

Post a comment

Give Now

Estate Planning

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »

Smart Talk

National Edward R. Murrow Awards

DuPont Columbia Awards

Support Local Journalism

Latest News from NPR

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »