Gun control discussion morphs into debate over SGA’s role at university

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Stephen Green contributed to this report

A debate over gun control led to the debate over the role the student government plays in relation to representing the student body during their Tuesday night meeting.

Some members, including the president and chief of staff, believe students elected the group to vote on their behalf. Others say the matter is too big for a group of 23 students to speak on behalf of the entire student body.

S013-2 the Sam Houston Personal Protection Bill would put support behind the idea that students should be able to carry concealed weapons on campus with the proper permit.

Rules and Regulations Chief Steven Perry proposed the amendment that sparked the discussion and would put the bill up for a student vote during the Spring 2013 election cycle.

“For the first time, I am truly embarrassed,” Perry said after the amendment failed. “When the student body says that they should make this decision and not (SGA), that’s (the students’) decision to make.”

Of the 23 members of the Senate, only eight members were directly voted into the organization by students during their election. The rest were all elected internally, something Perry says causes a problem in cases like these.

“You have no mandate,” he said. “You can come in here every week and play government, but this is something that actually matters.”

SGA President Shane Rankin said the organization had the right to vote on the bill and represent the students opinion.

“We are elected to represent our constituents in the way the want to be represented,” Rankin said. “I think SGA fulfills the role of representing students. We are elected by the students for the students.”

He and Sen. Josh Beaman, author of the legislation, are demanding a public apology from Perry.

“Senators should be on their best behavior,” Rankin said. “Perry wasn’t.”

Chief of Staff Ramiro Jaime said students wouldn’t have the patience to read the bill all the way through before placing their vote.

I was hoping that we’d vote on it tonight, not necessarily for the fact of convenience, but just for the fact that I stated that people aren’t going to read the bill, Jaime said. It’s just like [situation of] Obamacare. It’s doesn’t matter whether you’re for or against it. Both parties, whether for or against it, didn’t read the bill and it was voted on.

Several senators and students took offense to the statement, which they say called them lazy or unintelligent.

Jaime said this wasn’t his intent.

“Basically, I just wanted to point out that I wasn’t calling stupid lazy I was stating the fact that we are all students and nobody reads those emails,” he said.

Several students spoke in favor of the amendment while none spoke against it. Only a handful of senators actually voted to pass the amendment. The vote was not taken by roll call so precise numbers are not available.

The SGA elections will be held April 3 and 4. All referendums that are put up in the general elections must be voted on by 10 percent of the student body, or more than 1,800 students.

During the meeting, Sen. Spencer Copeland redacted his amendment that would require UPD to collect and maintain a list of campus community members with concealed handgun licenses. His reason was that theres a list that already contains that information and is easily accessible to UPD.

Three other amendments were passed by SGA that corrected improper grammar and wording in the original bill.

Perrys motion to have the bill tabled until the next meeting passed.

They will meet again on Tuesday to discuss and possibly vote on the bill.