Campus carry will put campus at risk

If Wisconsin politicians pass campus carry legislation in January, our campus could become more dangerous and violent.

Image By: Wikimedia

We have lost a lot here in Wisconsin. The dignity of working women was attacked on Election Day when the state voted to re-elect a U.S. senator who has voted against pay equity five times. Black students on campus were dehumanized when attendees of a UW-Madison football game brought a noose and metaphorically hung our black president.

Our own university has faced losses, with the state legislature cutting $800 million from our budget since 2011, leaving us unable to fund our great research and pay our brilliant faculty.

Politically, we are in a devastating position. Conservatives are dominating the government at the national level and in our own state. In January, Republican legislators in the state capital will propose campus carry legislation. This will allow students to carry on their person, into any campus building, classroom or lecture hall, a lethal firearm.

However, we have not lost everything. As students, we have the ability to battle for the issues that matter most. We will fight tooth and nail to preserve the integrity of our nation, our state and our institution.

I fear if we do not act now and prevent campus carry from being introduced and later passed by the State Assembly, we suffer another grave loss here at UW-Madison.

I fear campus carry because my classrooms are politically charged places, full of thought-provoking discussions, where dearly held ideas are challenged. I don’t want to see such exchanges give way to fear and silence because of concerns that someone carrying a firearm may react to that in a violent way.

I fear campus carry because 65 percent of Wisconsinites oppose the legislation. If passed, it would mean Republican legislators are publicly choosing to put some other interest ahead of their duty to their hardworking, honest constituents.

I fear campus carry because it may be yet another step designed to drive away qualified faculty, a punishment of sorts for their speaking out against the legislature’s previous attack on tenure.

I don’t want to see my exceptional, qualified professors faced with the decision to leave their academic home for the confines of a safer campus where their presence is respected and sought after.

I fear campus carry because, according to a study by the late UW-Madison Professor Leonard Berkowitz, the presence of a gun in a room makes people act with more aggression.

I fear campus carry because our campus undeniably uses excessive amounts of alcohol, and pairing alcohol with firearms leads to unequivocal mistakes.

I fear campus carry as a woman because studies find it only perpetuates campus rape, with a 50 percent increase in rape on campuses in Utah following the passage of such legislation.

I fear campus carry because if I cannot feel safe in a classroom, one of the most sacred spaces for learning and the sharing of ideas, where can I feel safe?

I fear campus carry even with all my privilege, but most of all I fear for the safety of my marginalized peers, who do not benefit from the same protection from hate crimes that my white skin allows.

So the time must be now. I refuse to sit idly by as the very purpose of our university is transformed from a place of knowledge, intellect and learning to a battleground.

I ask the friends, staff, alumni, students, professors and family of UW-Madison to join the opposition for campus carry and call their legislators on the campus-wide Day of Action, Dec. 15, to tell them we cannot risk another loss and we cannot afford guns in our classrooms.

Kat is a sophomore majoring in Political Science and GIS Cartography. She is a member of ASM Student Council and is the vice chair of ASM’s Legislative Affairs Committee. What are your thoughts on concealed carry? Do you think that it would increase campus safety, or lead to more dangers? Let us know at opinion@dailycardinal.com.

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