Senators break ranks in Topeka

Marcus Clem | copy editor

Student Government Association spent the bulk of its meeting Wednesday addressing members who didn’t stick to the plan during their trip to the state capital to lobby the Kansas State Assembly.
Two members of SGA were accused of violating a pledge to not express their viewpoints on the issue of conceal-and-carry on campus during Higher Education Day on Feb. 11.
SGA voted last week by a margin of 22 to 16 to make opposition to conceal-and-carry on campus its official position, one that they would lobby the state legislators to adopt.
Both Ethan Scott, SGA treasurer, and Sen. Austin Leake are members of the Gorillas for Concealed Carry on Campus club.
They admitted to expressing their viewpoints to members of the Assembly privately, but claimed that they had clarified in advance that their views did not represent SGA or Pittsburg State.
Over a period of about 40 minutes, SGA members took turns addressing the accusations. The majority of the comments were highly critical of Scott and Leake’s actions.
“(It was) highly inappropriate,” Scott said. “All of my actions during that day were not malicious and they made it sound like I was intentionally going to other people’s meetings and betraying them.”
Lara Ismert says that she felt “betrayed” and surprised that the GCCC club members contravened official talking points.
Christian Cruz, SGA legislative affairs director, remarked during the meeting that if he had known beforehand that this was going to happen, the respective members would not have been invited on the trip.
Ismert agreed.
“Christian said that he as a leader should not have let them go,” Ismert said. “I would have supported that decision. I think that as a member of student government, you join student government to be part of something bigger than yourself.
“When that vote happened … it was said in meeting that you’re not going to go to Topeka and lobby on your own personal agenda, we are lobbying on behalf of student government, in unison with the other universities.”
Sen. Ed Stremel, who is president of the GCCC club, traveled to Topeka independently for the purpose of lobbying for his own viewpoint in support of conceal-and-carry.
He spoke to defend Scott and Leake by reading from the Pittsburg State student code of conduct a section that upheld students’ right to freedom of expression. As for the various criticisms directed at Scott and Leake, including one senator’s description of Scott’s actions as a “shitty deal,” Stremel said: “I do not apologize for this and I never will.”

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