Correction appended: An earlier version of this story identified Alex Serwer as a Business senior. He is, in fact, a Business junior.
The Michigan Student Assembly passed a resolution at its meeting last night expressing opposition to a bill in the state legislature that would permit students to carry concealed weapons on campus.
The resolution, which passed 20-1, directs MSA’s External Relations Committee to work with the University’s Department of Public Safety to educate students on the issue and lobby the state legislature to strike down the bill.
House Bill 5474 — introduced by state Rep. Wayne Schmidt (R–Traverse City) — is currently up for debate in the state House of Representatives. If passed, the bill would supersede the University policy banning weapons on campus. The legislation would not, however, affect the state law banning weapons from classrooms, residence halls and arenas.
LSA junior John Oltean, chair of MSA’s Peace and Justice Commission and co-author of the resolution, said that if the bill passes the state legislature it would threaten the safety of students and faculty on campus.
“We don’t want to try and change a system that isn’t broken,” Oltean said. “There’s not violent crime here and we don’t want to do anything that’s going to change that.”
Oltean said there are high risks associated with concealed weapons, and that these risks are heightened on a college campus, where drinking and drug use is typically prevalent.
“The fact is kids are drinking, kids are doing drugs here and it’s a hazardous area for people to have weapons — especially concealed weapons,” he said. “It just brings more potential conflict.”
Business junior Alex Serwer, chair of MSA’s Campus Improvement Commission, said that if passed, the bill would endanger students because it would allow those not affiliated with the University to conceal weapons on campus. Serwer was one of the four authors of the resolution.
“It’s an overarching law for the whole state where localities couldn’t dictate their own laws with regard to carrying weapons and that would permit anyone to come on this campus with a weapon,” he said.
LSA Rep. Gabe Surprise was the only representative who voted against the resolution. He said he believed that if the weapons were legally obtained and registered they could improve campus safety.
“They will provide an adequate source of defense for people that might be under threat from attack,” Surprise said. “The police may not be able to respond as soon as necessary.”
Jason Raymond, chair of MSA’s External Relations Committee, and Chris Armstrong, chair of MSA’s LGBT Commission, were the other two authors of the resolution.
HAMMER DISCUSSES HIS LAWSUIT AGAINST THE ‘U’
Former University Law School Prof. Peter Hammer, who was denied tenure from the University’s Law School in 2003, spoke to MSA last night about his pending lawsuit against the University.
Hammer is suing the University on grounds that he was discriminated against because he is openly gay. According to Hammer, he is the only male faculty member in the last 40 years to be denied tenure from the Law School.
He said the University claims to abide by a non-discriminatory policy and he said his rights as an employee were violated.
Hammer’s case has yet to go to jury trial. It has been pending for five years. The next public hearing will be on Dec. 11 in Lansing.
Hammer said he is anxious for a trial.
“If you say you don’t discriminate, great. So let’s go to court and let’s hear both sides and let’s prove it,” he said.
Hammer said because of the amount of resources the University has put into this case, he doesn’t think anyone else would have been able to afford this lengthy suit.
“How many people have the resources and gumption to fight this?” he said. “Any other person would have been by the wayside a long time ago.”
—Casandra Pagni contributed to this report.