By Sawyer Smith Lariat Reporter
Student Government has decided that it will formally recommend to President and Chancellor Ken Starr and the Baylor Board of Regents that Baylor “opt out” of campus carry in a meeting Thursday night.
Campus carry refers to Texas Senate Bill 11, which requires all public universities to allow concealed guns on campus but leaves the option open to private universities. Baylor has yet to officially decide on the matter.
Over the past two weeks, student government has attempted to educate and inform the student body on the issue of campus carry. Their efforts have included an open forum discussion, public deliberation session, daily information tables and multiple focus group meetings with student leaders.
Student body President Pearson Brown, taking into consideration the concerns of those in favor for campus carry, suggested Student Senate pass a bill advising the “opt out.”
Pearson and other executive council members largely cited the results from the university online poll as reason to pass the bill. Internal Vice President Linsday Bacque said, “3,327 people participated in our poll and that is fantastic response.”
Of the number of participants in the poll, it was disclosed 62 percent voted “opt out”, while 34 percent wanted Baylor to “opt in”, and three percent remained unsure. Despite this turnout being unprecedented in previous Student Government polling, only twenty-two percent of the entire student body participated.
The vote Thursday night passed thirty to six, but was not unmet by passionate opposition. Chase Hardy, a member of the student senate, contended that twenty-four well educated Texas State Senators had passed bill #11 after researching and analyzing it much more thoroughly than Student Government ever could in a matter of weeks.” If this states’ legislators strongly believe in campus carry for Texas universities, we should be mindful of that. They are more informed than most of us and have examined the issue more closely.” said Chase.
Before the official procedural process, outsiders were given a chance to briefly make their case. A leader from the Baylor Democrats firmly stated that opting in would only increase the likeliness of gun accidents, suicides, and domestic murder violence. “Our school is not a warzone,” he said, “we need to embrace and strengthen our campus safety leaders, not weapons.”
Results from the public deliberation forum indicated that student opinion is very split, and strong beliefs exist on each side of the debate. 51 percent encouraged Baylor to opt in and 49 percent said opt out.
Focus group meetings reflected oppositely with three of eight groups expressing interest in opting out and just two wanting to opt in. The other three groups were split decision.
The question still remains if opting out will be popularly supported by the entire student body, but it has been decided for now, the Student Government will formally advise decision makers to not allow gun carry at Baylor University.