WV student gov.: Ask state reps to vote “NO” on campus carry

West Virginia State University’s student government asked students to vote "NO" on a campus carry bill.

Despite sending this message in a mass email, the group later claimed that this did not constitute its "formal stance" on the issue.

West Virginia State University’s student government emailed students Tuesday night, telling them to lobby their state representatives to vote “NO” on a campus carry bill.

The email sent to all students by the student government, a copy of which Campus Reform obtained, also encourages students to attend a protest against campus carry at the state capitol, and contains information that was forwarded to them by “other West Virginia Universities.”

"We are reaching out in the spirit of faculty governance. As many of you know, HB 2519 ‘Campus Carry’ is moving quickly through the West Virginia legislature. This bill would allow for students, faculty, staff, and members of the public who are 18 years and older to carry concealed firearms on campus (if they have a permit).” the email states. “If passed, the bill would allow for concealed carry in classrooms, in dorms (common areas), and in other public spaces on campus (e.g. student unions). This bill directly affects our workplace, our students, and the tenor of higher education in West Virginia.” (bolded in original)

The email sent by the SGA then directly asks students to demand their legislators vote “NO” on the bill.

“We do not want Charleston to dictate how we regulate guns on campus. This bill is costly, dangerous, and misguided,” the email reads. “Vote NO on HB 2519.”

[RELATED: Univ. suspends concealed carry student. Was Sixth Amend. violated?]

Various professors and faculty at other West Virginia universities signed onto the email.

This morning, however, the West Virginia State student government tried to walk back part of its original email after a student alleged bias.

“If you refer back to the email regarding the Campus Carry protest, you can note that the [student government] itself does not take a formal stance for or against the Bill,” the follow-up email, a copy of which Campus Reform also obtained, reads. However, the original email asking students to lobby their legislators does not clarify it is not a formal stance. Further, the email was sent using a university account. 

“We merely provided information on a way that students can use their voice, as they see fit, to voice their opinion,” the student government stated in its follow-up email. “As the Student Government Association, it is our job to represent our constituents, A.K.A our students, and to be their voice in all matters regarding West Virginia State University. Now because we are representing our constituents, and so far our constituents are split on the Campus Carry Bill (according to the survey taken last week by SGA), we have chosen to remain neutral on the topic and will not be persuading students to change their personal opinions one way or another.”

[RELATED: Student reported to police for talking about concealed carry]

But Calli Norton, a WVSU alumna, told Campus Reform she's not buying that explanation. 

“The Student Government Association is the designated non-partisan body on campus,” Norton said. “By advocating for a specific policy point on a bill, the SGA as a whole is no longer representing the students as a whole, but rather their special interests.”

Campus Reform reached out to the SGA and West Virginia State University but did not receive a response in time for publication.

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