SGA’s agenda to build a safer campus

Georgia State’s SGA take a vote on five new pieces of campus safety legislation, March 24, 2016. Photo by Michael Gaither | The Signal

Georgia State’s SGA take a vote on five new pieces of campus safety legislation, March 24, 2016.  Photo by Michael Gaither | The Signal
Georgia State’s SGA take a vote on five new pieces of campus safety legislation, March 24, 2016.
Photo by Michael Gaither | The Signal
During its March 24 meeting, the Student Government Association (SGA) Senate passed a whopping five new pieces of campus safety legislation.

Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

The safety bill introductions began with the “Active Shooter Resolution,” authored by SGA Sen. Justin Jones. The resolution will follow the Haven online program format to require active shooter information and training to all incoming Georgia State students and faculty.

The bill reads, “Georgia State will work hand in hand with GSU Police Department in developing and requiring a program that will inform the GSU community of their options in the event of an active shooter in their area.”

Though most senators were in agreement on its passage, there were concerns raised on the budget the program would need and whether returning students should be required to complete it every year. A motion was passed for the bill to be sent to the Student Services Commission for approval of a budget and for official movement to be taken by the university.

SGA Sen. Gabriela Batista-Vargas introduced another resolution in opposition to “Campus Carry,” supported by a survey distributed by SGA which allegedly found most students of Georgia State were against the bill.

Batista-Vargas’ original resolution contained stats on suicide rates, which most of the senate said should be nixed from the legislation. In an almost unanimous disagreement, senators argued that the most urgent point of interest for the students was campus safety, not suicide.

Suicide-related clauses were struck from the resolution, and “firearms” were changed to “handguns” to match the Georgia House legislation. And after a twenty-five debate period, the Senate voted on sending the heavily amended resolution back to the safety committee.

A decision that also followed the “Escort Increase” resolution, authored by SGA Transfer Student Liaison Erin Gardner which hoped to create a direct phone line for escorts and increase the number of vehicles provided.

VP for Public Relations, Anthony Nguyen authored legislation which seeked to promote a campus safety campaign at the university.

Recommending weekly SGA emails with safety tips, the bill sought to give a “shout-out” to all safety resources available on campus through flyers, print media and digital signage. A clause of the bill also suggested a safety resource slot in all syllabi, followed with a D2L quiz for all students on emergency contact numbers and resources. The bill was sent back for review, after concerns on the logistics and wording.

With an enthusiastic finale by Corey Gray and Maggie Huynh, a bill to make September the campus’ “Safety Awareness Month,” suggested the cooperation of SGA with the GSU Police Department for the creation of events to raise awareness to safety issue. Campus safety walks as well as free T-shirt and pins with emergency contact numbers are included in the long list of promotion techniques to both inform students of the safer areas and resources on campus, as well as reconstruct a better relationship with the university’s police department.

Campus safety was the prominent issue for SGA debates last week, with candidates promoting their own bill and campaign ideas to step up the university’s policing. Competing for next term’s presidential seat, SGA VP of Student Services Fortune Onwuzuruike brought up security on campus on Tuesday night’s presidential debates, where he promised an increased presence of police officers.

Senator hopefuls also dove into the subject, focusing on the after-math of campus carry if the bill is passed.

“There should be gun training sessions to show how to use the gun and how to respond to someone who is scared or asks about the gun,” said SGA Senate Clerk Janae Williams, a candidate for .

Despite debate speeches full of promises, the SGA Vice President for Academic Affairs, David Jackson, addressed current senators in the meeting to talk about their involvement. Jackson announced SGA’s attempt to keep their members involved by sending out emails to those chosen from a “volunteer pool” to participate in the association’s activities.

“You guys can at least make a meager commitment of your time. I only ask for 30 or 45 minutes,” he said. “You guys know who you are, and you know you’re running for elections, you have promises and ideas you’re supporting for the debate, so keep that in mind.”

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