Without question, the debate over guns—and specifically concealed carry laws—is one of the hottest issues on Georgia college campuses. Last week, the Georgia State House passed HB 512 by an overwhelming majority—a bill that gives college students with a Georgia Weapons License the right to carry concealed weapons to defend themselves, as long as they do not carry in a Greek house, athletic venue or dorm.
At Tech we have a considerable crime problem, and in recent years students have faced numerous dangerous situations including a string of armed robberies. While everyone acknowledges the safety risks in and around campus, opinions on how best to prevent and defend against these crimes differ sharply. At a recent Tech Student Government meeting, elected student representatives spoke out on all sides of the issue and there was no decisive outcome. In recent days, however, the greatest opponent of the student voice has been Tech Undergraduate Student Body President Eran Mordel and his executive board.
“…we do not know exactly who [President Mordel] talked to, but we do know that he ignored the two most prominent and vocal pro-carry campus groups…”
In a letter dated March 13th, President Mordel petitioned the Georgia legislative body to oppose HB 512. He supposedly formed his opinion based on personal convictions and conversations with student activist groups. While we do not know exactly who he talked to, we do know that he ignored the two most prominent and vocal pro-carry campus groups, College Republicans and Students for Concealed Carry, and was advised by a self-appointed executive board.
Where was student opinion on this matter? President Mordel has, in fact, unilaterally issued a blanket statement opposing HB 512, without gauging the actual viewpoints of the crime-riddled student body.
And it gets even worse. Several days before President Mordel released the letter, he sent an email to the Student Body Presidents at all the major Georgia universities asking for their support of his petition. This would not have been so bad if President Mordel had actually informed Tech’s student body of what he was doing in their name. Not only did President Mordel, of his own accord, decide to lobby on behalf of the entire student body based on his personal beliefs, but he hid his agenda and actions from the students themselves.
“President Mordel’s letter incorrectly spoke on behalf of all Tech students without a prior and proper survey of campus opinion.”
In our conversations with a wide range of students and campus groups over the past few years, it is evident that many students are worried about their safety and want a way to defend themselves. Criminals know that students are unarmed, often carrying expensive laptops, cell phones and textbooks, so they are an easy target. The notion that campuses should be “gun-free zones” is absurd and only puts students at greater risk, and the support for concealed carry on campus continues to grow.
President Mordel’s letter incorrectly spoke on behalf of all Tech students without a prior and proper survey of campus opinion. While he continues his personal fight against the Second Amendment, students are left without an official voice on this issue. It is a sad day when students at a leading public university are misrepresented and robbed of the chance to express our concerns on a matter that affects us all—personal safety.