During my senior year at Michigan I had the chance to serve on the undergraduate student governing body as a representative of the College of Engineering. I was thrown into a diverse group of students with cultural and political knowledge far greater than my own and we were seen to represent both the student and the local population. I was in way over my head but I think it opened my eyes and I learned a lot. Unfortunately for the student body I think I got more out of it than they did. We were expected to come out with statements of solidarity with student religious groups, and this was during the University’s big affirmative action cases so we were coming out with statements about that too and organizing bus loads of people to go down to Detroit to the courts for the case.
This week the undergrad governing body at Tech was also making some big decisions. (Note the all too common irony of religion and gun support) Specifically, they were deciding whether or not to approve a conceal and carry law for students on campus. This would allow students over 21 who have appeared before a probate courts and undergone a background check to legally carry a gun on campus. The student governing body initially put forth a survey to the student body and just over 50% of students opposed the measure.
Though I agree with this verdict, the numbers are worrying. The student representatives are in a tough position where they may feel morally opposed to guns but responsible to their constituency. Personally, I don’t think the university is the place for people to be carrying concealed weapons. It is sometimes as much a place for growing to realize your personal responsibilities as it is for gaining new book knowledge and skills. Allowing guns does not help with this. It is difficult enough without introducing 1. the responsibility of owning and carrying a lethal weapon around or 2. the possibly frenetic social experience of thinking your peers may be carrying guns. Not to sound snooty about it but, for the most part, this University is a pretty self contained unit. Although it’s in the heart of a city, there is not a lot of intrusion from the periphery. When you walk around you have a pretty good idea of who the students are, who is sketchy, and who should be carrying weapons (the police). And I think compared to most of the City, there are a lot of cops on campus.
Aside for this Tech ruling, I have been seeing a lot in the news around town about guns lately. Chicago’s gun ban just got shot down by the Supreme Court. Unofficial Tea Party ‘leader’, former Alaska governor, and likely future reality TV show participant Sarah Palin is about to give the keynote address at the NRA’s national meeting. Also, here is a recent episode of This American Life themed on guns, check it out and let me know what you think about guns.
post script found this table while doing some research for something else. It’s about risk perception and ranks them against each other. It includes handguns so I thought I would throw it up here. It’s from Slovic, P. 1987 Science. Vol. 236 no. 4799. p.280-285.