The Student Government Association (SGA) passed a resolution opposing HB 29, a recent Georgia legislation about guns on college campuses, and a bill to fund T-shirts that students can receive in exchange for other college T-shirts, on Monday evening.
Resolution 46sl33, submitted by Alex Nathanson, College junior and vice president of communications and community outreach of Emory Young Democrats, explains that HB 29 will remove the ban on concealed weapons on both public and private universities in Georgia.
“[The bill] assumes from the get-go that guns are acceptable,” Nathanson said.
Nathanson brought up some potential ramifications of the bill on Emory as an institution. First, because the bill removes the statewide ban on concealed weapons, it would take away Emory’s right to pursue legal avenues against people who violate existing gun regulations.
Under HB 29, the most Emory could do was impose a conduct violation on someone who brings a gun on campus, according to Nathanson.
Without any legal consequences, this means that campus visitors would technically be permitted to bring concealed weapons on campus with no repercussions, as they are not subject to University rules and conduct codes, according to Nathanson.
“Conduct violations will have no deterrent effect whatsoever,” he said, reiterating his opposition to HB 29.
The resolution also claims that opposition to HB 29 has bipartisan support, citing that a poll conducted by SurveyUSA, a local polling firm, found that 51 percent of conservatives and 71 percent of liberals are against the bill.
Bill authors also brought up the concern of expenditure on signage. It projects that if HB 29 is passed, Emory would potentially have to spend thousands of dollars on signs around campus to emphasize that guns are forbidden, a consequence of which might be that prospective students will be discouraged from attending Emory, according to Nathanson.
Some legislators were concerned that the bill would give SGA an undesirable political voice.
Nathanson responded that SGA has voiced opinions on political issues in the past, for example the Chick-fil-A resolution discussed in December.
Nathanson also stressed that Emory has a lobbying arm and influence among Georgia legislature and that it has exercised this power in the past on gun legislation.
Finally, College freshman and SGA Representative Jon Darby proposed an amendment to the resolution. The legislature proposed to pass the amendment so that the resolution now makes a stronger statement to read “SGA opposes HB 29 and any future legislation that permits concealed weapons on the campuses of post-secondary institutions.”
SGA voted in favor of the resolution 19-0-2.
SGA also voted to fund $960 towards a T-shirt exchange bill proposed by College freshman and SGA Representative Raj Tilwa. Students will be able to trade in T-shirts of other colleges and universities for Emory T-shirts for free.
The exchange is set to occur on March 6 during Wonderful Wednesday. The objective is to increase Emory school spirit, according to Tilwa.
The Finance Committee recommended that SGA not pass the bill on a 1-2-13 decision.
Their main concern was that the event would not be accessible to all divisions of the University, namely the graduate schools because many graduate students don’t know about Wonderful Wednesday.
Tilwa responded by saying that he will put more effort into advertising the event to the graduate schools and settings up a separate event at the business and law schools.
– By Rupsha Basu