By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Inspired by students across the nation, and empowered by their efforts in this community, six students took to the podium at Bowling Green City Council Monday evening.
They were seeking two basic rights – decent affordable housing, and no gun violence in their schools.
Aidan Hubbell-Staeble asked City Council to use its power to push the state legislature to pass legislation on guns – something that would provide real tangible solutions to stop gun violence in schools.
“Enough is enough,” he said.
One by one, the other students – Carlie Pritt, Zach Davis, Hannah Barnes, Connor Froelich and Alyson Baker – stood at the podium and read aloud the names of students killed by guns in schools, starting with those at Columbine.
They ended with the children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, then told City Council they would return at the next meeting to continue with the names of students killed since Newtown.
“The students of Bowling Green High School and Bowling Green State University will continue to fight for this issue until we see change,” said Alyson Baker.
Baker was one of the organizers of the local walkout in honor of the Parkland victims. More than 300 high school and middle school students joined the walkout.
Council member Bruce Jeffers explained that the city is limited in any action it can take on firearms.
“It’s pretty hard to sit and listen to all those people gone under those circumstances,” Jeffers said of the victims’ names read aloud.
Council member Sandy Rowland praised the students for becoming part of the governmental process. She stressed that gun violence is not a political issue, but a life or death issue.
“Thank you for coming out tonight and participating,” Rowland said to the students.
Council member Daniel Gordon said the problem may be that local voices are not being heard at the state level.
“They’re not quite listening to us,” he said. “I would like to think that our input matters.”
Gordon also criticized those who have targeted the local students for organizing a walkout and rally. “There are a lot of people who have not been kind to you in the last few weeks,” he said.
Council member John Zanfardino praised the walkout effort.
“Students saying ‘enough is enough’ is as good thing,” Zanfardino said. Council will discuss the students’ request, he said.
On the issue of housing, Hubbell-Staeble said he and his girlfriend had very few criteria when looking for a rental – it had to be affordable; it couldn’t share a wall with a noisy neighbor like a bar; and it needed a yard so they could get a dog.
They went through dozens of rentals in the First and Second wards.
“We were extremely discouraged,” Hubbell-Staeble said.
They encountered housing with holes in the walls, mold in the bathrooms and broken windows patched with boards.
“Bowling Green is seriously lacking affordable quality housing” for families and students, Hubbell-Staeble said.
He talked about a former BGSU student who loved the Bowling Green community, but ended up moving to Maumee.
“He couldn’t find quality housing” in Bowling Green, Hubbell-Staeble said.
Hubbell-Staeble asked City Council to “take a good hard look at homes in Bowling Green.”
(A story will follow soon on City Council’s plan to create some type of rental registry as suggested in the Community Action Plan.)