SGA discusses private police and gun control

By GIULIANA LEOTTA | March 15, 2018

At its weekly Tuesday meeting, the Student Government Association (SGA) discussed a resolution calling for solidarity with victims and survivors of the mass school shooting at Parkland, Fla. on Feb. 14. The resolution calls for national action on gun control and asks the University to support gun reform initiatives. 

Executive Vice President AJ Tsang presented the resolution, which was sponsored by Freshman Senator Aspen Williams, Freshman Senator Lauren Paulet and Sophomore Class President Anthony Boutros. 

The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (Stoneman Douglas) took 17 lives and injured 14 others. Since then, students across the nation have been walking out of class to call for increased gun control and gun reform measures. They have also hosted rallies, speeches and other demonstrations.

“Civic Engagement and I have been working on this for a few weeks now,” Tsang said. “In the aftermath of the Parkland shooting a few weeks ago, we were inspired to write a resolution to show solidarity with the survivors and victims of the tragedy as well as to call for action here at Hopkins.” 

Specifically, the resolution asks the University to support student demonstrations in favor of gun reform, stop granting honorary degrees to individuals, especially politicians, who fail to support gun control measures and divest from companies that are connected to the sale of firearms.

Clause E of the resolution requests that the University not fund “any campus-safety initiative that would arm JHU affiliates, including faculty, staff, and any affiliate employed by the University security apparatus.” 

Some SGA members questioned whether this point of the resolution related to the newly proposed campus police force.

Tsang responded that the clause was a response to a nationally proposed public safety initiative that called for arming teachers. He also clarified that the resolution was drafted before the University announced the campus police force. 

Senior Class President Kwame Alston noted that SGA has not yet reached an official stance on the University aim to establish a private police force.  

“We have not taken a stance on whether or not we’re for or against the private police as the SGA yet, and this resolution was written before the [possibility of Hopkins having the private police] came out. We have to decide, as a whole, whether we’re against the private police,” Alston said. 

It was clarified that a University police force would indeed be armed. Questions arose regarding the types of arms that the University police would carry.

There was a failed motion to remove Clause E. The resolution was then passed unanimously.  

SGA also approved funding for several student groups seeking additional support for their events. Student-run non-profit organization TCO Labs brought forward a request for funding. The funds would be used in addition to other funding to host an event on campus that would allow undergraduates to network with local businesses as well as run entrepreneurship workshops. 

Some members raised concerns about the spending that SGA has been approving and urged other members to be more critical about organizations they were funding, especially considering previous funding request denials. Despite disagreement over the groups that should and should not be given money, TCO Labs’ request was passed, 18-1.  

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