Senate Resolution 1708, a resolution to allow students to lawfully carry concealed weapons at UTM passed through the SGA at the senate meeting on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017.
The resolution was an amended version, sponsored by Jade Bleskey, of Alex Joyner’s previous legislation, S.R. 1704. S.R. 1708 included changes to sections of the bill that were meant to clarify several of the points which students had expressed concern about. Further details of these changes can be found in the resolutions on OrgSync or in the Nov. 16 edition of The Pacer.
At the start of senate, Bleskey proposed that 1708 be added to the bottom of the agenda. When this was approved, Joyner withdrew S.R. 1704 from the agenda and the meeting proceeded according to the newly revised agenda.
Though S.R. 1708 received a majority of ‘Yes’ votes among SGA senators, students who voted in the referendum on Tuesday did not show the same support. The results of the referendum showed that the majority of voters did not want concealed carry to be allowed on UTM’s campus and this point was repeatedly brought forth during the meeting.
Debate was long during senate and several of the arguments made by senators opposing the resolution included questions and statements which had been previously referenced when S.R 1704 was originally brought before the chambers.
Student Affairs Committee Chair Lora Moore asked the sponsors and challenged the room to consider professors who have “already experienced threats from students,” and how they would respond to this resolution as well as where they would turn for safety should it be passed.
Brandon Anderson, senator for the college of Health, Education and Behavioral Sciences referred to last semester’s near-campus shooting. He said he was near the scene at the time of the shooting and felt completely safe because he witnessed, “Every police officer from UTM and Martin,” came to the scene from, “every direction,” telling the chambers that public safety is quick and efficient and again underlining that students marked on their referendum ballots their confidence in their safety while at UTM.
Arguments in response from sponsor Bleskey included reference to 10 other states which have legal concealed carry for students on college campuses. She argued that if people know UTM has concealed carrying students, they would be less likely to target the school for a mass shooting.
Bleskey and Joyner both referred to the low turnout rate of the referendum. Russell Smith, Senator for the Ripley Center, said that if students cared more about the outcome then they would have voted in the referendum. He argued that gun-free zones are where mass shootings typically take place and that this resolution being passed would give the state a better idea of what students want.
After senate members spent a long period of debate expressing their views, the vote was taken by roll. This meant that the Secretary General, Holly Seng, called the roll and as she named a senator’s name, they gave their vote. Those who voted ‘Aye,’ were in support of the resolution, those voting ‘Nay,’ were against it. The votes were as follows:
Business and Global Affairs:
Alex Joyner: Aye
Casey Wiater: Aye
Clark Williams: Aye
Preston Carter: Aye
Agriculture and Applied Science:
Jade Bleskey: Aye
Michael Samko: Aye
Collin Revelle: Aye
Clay Coury: Aye
Emmittee Prince: Aye
Health, Education and Behavioral Sciences:
Brandon Anderson: Nay
Maggie Browning: Nay
Katelynn Cunningham: Nay
Quala Cole: Nay
Evelyn Estrada: Aye
Esmeralda Mejorado: Nay
Lora Moore: Nay
Cassandra Winslow: Aye
April Joyce-Rushing: Absent
Laura Baker- Aye
Engineering and Natural Sciences:
Anabelle Cormia: Nay
Emilio Walls: Nay
Logan Rangel: Aye
Humanities and Fine Arts:
Jenna Damore: Nay
Emily Wilson: Unable to Vote
Dequad Jimmerson: Aye
Annie Harris: Aye
Hunter McCloud: Aye
Elizabeth Burns: Absent
Zachariah Thomas: Nay
Russell Smith: Aye
This total 17 senators voting in support of the resolution, and 10 against it.
After the voting took place, senate proceeded as normal, but was then followed by a vote of no confidence. Speaker of the Senate John Hayes was removed from his position, even after recusing himself of the position for the duration of 1708’s proceedings that evening.
Hayes handed the speaker position down to Breydon Horton, Vice President, under allegations that senators felt his judgement was skewed from a bias. Horton also recused himself from the position on the grounds of being outspoken previously on his personal views of the resolution. The position then fell to Emily Wilson, Procedures Committee Chair to preside during debate and voting. She did so for the duration of 1708’s proceedings and returned the gavel to Hayes upon its completion.
At that time, senator Joyner called for a vote of no-confidence on Hayes which passed 19 to nine.
After a controversial evening, Attorney General Devin Majors reminded the chambers during announcements that all legislation can be vetoed by the president of SGA at any point during the 14 days following its approval. He encouraged students to email President Jordan Long about how they feel on this outcome. Majors further urged the chambers that if they feel their government is not representing them, to go to the chancellor and student affairs departments to have SGA disbanded.
Shaina Toler-Camien a junior English major from Clarksville and resident assistant at UTM said that she felt this bill was put through to put pressure on the state legislature to change laws as they stand now. She encouraged students to write their legislators and tell them that they do not agree with SGA’s vote and do not want to see students in the state being permitted to concealed carry on college campuses.
As a reminder, a resolution does not create action, but displays the opinion of the Student Government. It is still illegal for students to concealed carry firearms on the campus of UTM and it will remain that way until Tennessee changes current laws.
For all questions pertaining to SGA, contact student body President Jordan Long at email@example.com or any of the senators for your college, whose email addresses can be found online in the directory on utm.edu.
(Results courtesy SGA website)