SGA Passes Two Gun Violence Bills

By BEN DOHAN

Two resolutions, one in support of Middlebury students against gun violence and one calling for action against racism resulting in gun violence, were passed by the SGA on Sunday. Contention surrounding both bills centered around questions over the scope of responsibility of the SGA in addressing political, far-reaching issues.

The first resolution stated that gun violence is an issue that requires immediate action to ensure the safety of students, encourages students to be aware and engage in issues they care about, and calls on the admissions office to reword their statement on applicants and political action. 

The current statement, issued on Feb. 28 of this year in a nationwide response to high school walkouts protesting gun violence, addresses applicants’ involvement in protests.  In a similar approach to its peer institutions, the college’s statement assures students that reports of disciplinary action based on political action will be considered in light of students’ free-speech rights and obligation to engage politically.

Senators Connor McCormick ’18 and Jack Goldfield ’20 raised opposition to the bill because it is largely a political statement, with few actionable policies, and nothing that the SGA itself can act on. 

The senate debated whether it was their role to make political statements. Some senators argued that they had received backlash for making political statements, while others brought up criticism that they had received for not making political statements in the wake of the student protests at Charles Murray’s talk last March. 

Senator Kailash Pandey ’19 defended the bill on the merits that the one of the roles of the SGA is to encourage the community to think about important issues, while senator Maryam Mahboob ’18 cautioned that it is not the SGA’s job to tell people what to think.

The resolution passed, opposed by McCormick, and with abstentions from Goldfield, senator Stephanie Andrews ’18, and speaker Rae Aaron ’19.5. 

The second resolution called for more actionable policy from the administration by bringing more professionals to campus who are trained and experienced working with diverse communities. It calls for Parton health center to hire a clinical psychologist who is trained and experienced to work in diverse communities and states that the SGA themselves will work to bring speakers to campus this May to provide students with “healing spaces, activities and resources facilitated by trained, experienced professionals familiar with the identities and culture of black students.”

It also called for Middlebury to acknowledge the institutional racism that results in disproportionate impacts of gun violence on black students and says that the SGA supports “unwavering action” to support those students. 

The debate over this resolution was much shorter. A clause about charitable organizations was removed after McCormick raised the issue that it’s not the SGA’s responsibility to choose between charitable organizations. This resolution was passed as well, with McCormick opposed, and Andrews, Goldfield, and Aaron, along with senators John Schurer ’21, and Violet Low-Beinart ’19, abstaining.

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SGA Passes Two Gun Violence Bills