A legislative committee has shot down a proposal to allow guns on South Dakota's college campuses. Supporters of Senate Bill 177 said was meant to uphold the Second Amendment on campus and feel it could help students protect themselves in the case of a college shooting. The South Dakota State University Students' Association felt the bill would have taken control away from the South Dakota Board of Regents, and brought too many safety issues.
"We're a growing school. We're not just a small college school anymore," Students' Association Senator Hassan Ali said.
Ali said this is why the organization went on record during its Monday night meeting to officially oppose the bill. A majority of SA said no to guns on campus. Ali, who introduced the resolution, said it was a weeks-long discussion; in fact, this type of bill has come up during many past sessions. Students gave their input, and many of them did not feel safe with guns and worried how guns could escalate a number of situations.
"I do feel a lot more comfortable (without guns on campus). I've experienced things on this campus, just being a student of color that I didn't feel comfortable with," Ali said.
It is a diverse campus, and SA Programming and Public Relations Chair Shannon LaJoie said issues like this one are exactly why student senators are elected.
"We are the leaders on campus. I think that it's important to know your student leaders care about an issue this much," LaJoie said.
Ali and LaJoie said they do not want to take away rights from student hunters. Though most guns are banned from SDSU, University Marketing and Communications Director Mike Lockrem said students who live on campus can have hunting rifles, but they have to be in vehicles and out of sight. Students can also store them with organizations that are trained to handle firearms, like ROTC and UPD.
Some of the senators were not on board with this decision, and there was much heated debate.
"Arguments are one of the best ways to learn. To have someone whose views are different than yours. You learn so much more about the opposite side, but you strengthen your side," LaJoie said.
Though not everyone will agree with SA's stance, the real goal is to bring what's going on in Pierre to the campus. This student government works to make students aware of what's going on in the state to keep the conversation going.
"Makes people feel a lot safer, I think. That we are taking a stand. That voices are heard. That we're not just throwing around the issue," Ali said.