On December 4, Colgate’s Student Government Association (SGA) Senate voted to approve a letter calling for gun sense regulations written by the University of Pittsburgh Student Government Board. The final vote in Colgate’s Senate entailed: 25 votes in favor of the letter, 12 opposed to the letter and one abstention.
The University of Pittsburgh’s SGA President Maggie Kennedy sent the letter to Colgate’s SGA President, Jenny Lundt, on November 27. Lundt decided to present the letter to the Colgate Senate prior to endorsing it. After being a senator for the past three years in the SGA, Lundt said she knew that the legislative body’s voting autonomy was crucial. Because Colgate’s student government embodies a checks and balances system, Lundt herself was unable to vote on the letter’s approval. Consequently, the signature representing the Colgate SGA’s support of University of Pittsburgh’s initiative is “Jenny Lundt on behalf of the Colgate Student Government Association.”
The letter, which focuses on gun reform, is addressed to Pittsburgh’s district representatives and lawmakers, and was drafted in the wake of the tragic Tree of Life Synagogue massacre in Squirrel Hill on October 27. The three initiatives that are outlined in the letter are the expansion of background check requirements in order to be more comprehensive, stringent and intrusive; the closure of the gun show loophole through the revision of the Gun Show Loophole Closing Act of 2017; and the immediate federal banning of bump stocks and any other device that allows for legal weapons to become illegal.
The University of Pittsburgh’s Student Government Board’s letter also cites the need to neglect political affiliation and partisanship while working toward gun reform.
“It is time for our lawmakers to put aside partisanship. This is not a matter of Democratic or Republican affiliation, but rather of safeguarding the most fundamental principles of our nation was built upon: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” the letter says.
“Those with malice in their hearts, who aim to strip others of their fundamental right to life, must not have the ability to get their hands on lethal fire- arms,” the letter continues.
As the letter has circulated through collegiate circles, numerous schools and student representatives from their respective colleges have recently co-signed the letter. Student government presidents at the University of Texas at Austin, Swarthmore College, the University of Chicago, University of Scranton and Boston College all endorsed the letter. Students from other colleges like Cornell, University of Washington, Haverford, Columbia, Fordham and James Madison University have also approved the letter.
According to Lundt, Col- gate’s SGA has taken steps this year to be more politically involved. In the 2018 school year, the Senate has already passed “A Resolution to Express the Sentiments of Colgate University Students In Opposition to The Trump Administration’s Era- sure of the Transgender Community.” With this, Lundt has acknowledged that Colgate’s student government this year has chosen a path of social involvement in the community, as opposed to being politically neutral, which has not always been the case with Colgate’s student government.
“I think the rhetoric at most schools is that student governments don’t really care and don’t really do anything. That hasn’t been my experience at all. Most of the people I have met at student government here and elsewhere are all people that care so fiercely about change,” Lundt said.
Lundt also said that she has seen a similar thing with other schools’ student bodies.
“I think all the student body presidents I’ve talked to at other schools have some sort of interest in going into politics someday and fighting hard to make our country a better place. Being able to get hundreds of different schools to sign off on something that represents, to me, a better and safer future makes me so happy,” Lundt said.
The letter concludes with this line, “There are many more atrocities that we do not have the space to list. Shootings like these have become far too frequent headlines. Thoughts and prayers alone will no longer suffice. You cannot remain silent any longer; we demand change.” Colgate’s student government has chosen to join this coalition of other schools to take an active role in the University of Pittsburgh’s desire for legislative reform in our country.
Contact Nick Francoeur at [email protected]