USG passed resolution opposing House Bill 48


Undergraduate Student Government Executive Director Samuel Graska (left) shakes former Executive Director Brian Cannon’s hand (right) at the USG meeting on Thursday, April 27, 2016. Graska took over Cannon’s position for the 2016-2017 academic year.

Anthony Calvaruso

In newly-voted Executive Director Samuel Graska’s first Undergraduate Student Government meeting Wednesday, USG passed a resolution in opposition to House Bill 48. In the meeting, USG implemented changes to the allocation guidelines and “passed the gavel” to next year’s USG members.

The resolution opposing HB 48 has been tabled more than once to allow further discussion on the controversial topic.

The passing of HB 48 means it gives the Board of Trustees at public universities in Ohio the discretion to allow concealed carry of deadly weapons on campus.

Students and faculty would be allowed to have concealed carry when walking through campus, but would not be able to carry the weapons into buildings. If the bill passes the Ohio legislature, it is still up to the board at respective universities to vote on implementing the policy.

While USG conducted a twitter poll which showed opposition to concealed carry on campus from students, it was not a landslide.

“I support the idea of concealed carry on college campuses,” said Glen Wernke, a junior public health major. “I have my concealed carry. I feel that it would be better if people were able to protect themselves considering the number of shootings that take place on college campuses.”

Wernke also said that he believes in the idea of majority rules. If a majority of students are against it, then that should be how the trustees vote on the issue, he said.

Those in opposition to the bill aren’t necessarily against concealed carry completely. However, the environment of a college campus makes a difference.

“I am okay with concealed carry,” said Ben Wilkenson, a sophomore speech pathology major. “At the same time (though), I don’t think students should be allowed to carry their weapons on campus. It would lead to more violence and shootings.”

With the long wait to vote on the resolution, Dominic Cicchenelli, the director of governmental affairs, was glad to see it pass.

“I’m happy the way the vote went, based off the Twitter poll showing 70 to 30 percent in favor of it,” Cicchenelli said. “It makes me feel good that USG listens to what the students have to say.”

Also on Wednesday before the USG meeting, Kent State’s Ohio Student Association (OSA) held a letter drop in opposition to the house bill.

The event included not only OSA members, but also other students and community members. Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America were among those who attended. They were against HB 48.

“It’s an accident waiting to happen, you don’t know what the motive is for somebody walking around carrying a gun until they start shooting,” said Kelly McDougal, a local chapter leader for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

Upon delivering the letters to Provost Todd Diacon’s office, those present were invited to voice their concerns to Mark Polatajko, the senior vice president for Finance and Administration.

The students appealed for Kent State to publicly opt out HB 48, both for the students sake and to show leadership within the surrounding community.

“From our board perspective and from our university administration perspective, we are supportive of your position in terms of no concealed carry on our campus,” Polatajko said. “But again, we’re tracking the general assembly associated with that to see how that goes. We will then continue to work with our board to align our philosophy and position to make sure we are in the best position to maintain safety and the rights our students, community, faculty, staff and so forth.”

John Peach, the director of public safety, also joined the meeting. He provided background on his work both as a police officer as well as his work with the university. In regards to HB 48, he noted that he would be shocked if concealed carry on campus was approved.

“What we are looking for, maybe is the best of all things,” Peach said. “To have a university policy, the highest of all policy, that would say no deadly weapons on campus unless otherwise provided by law.”

Polatajko closed the meeting by telling the group that was present, that he would take their concerns and requests to the next cabinet meeting.

Anthony Calvaruso is the politics reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].