Politics

  • Four more years

    Students react to Obama’s 2nd term

    Re-election divides students

    Carl J. Bachus | Collegio Reporter

    After months of gaffes, embarrassing quotes and straight-answer-dodging debates, the final curtain fell on the 2012 presid

    ential campaign with the American public re-electing President Barack Obama. As the election year atmosphere begins to fade, PSU students weighed in on Tuesday night’s results.
    “I yelled out, ‘No!’” said Samantha Gentry, undeclared freshman. “The first clue was how close the election was that evening. When they tallied the popular vote and called Ohio, I cringed.”
    It seems that Gorillas are as polarized as the rest of the country when it comes to the president. Some students were lamenting four more years of the administration and others, like Darrell Chism, were relieved at the president’s re-election.
    “It was really dead-even for a minute,” said Chism, sophomore in business management. “I was really nervous because it was so close. But I was happy overall.”
    Chism says he and his watch party were almost certain which way the election would go, but the numbers earlier in the evening made him and his friends uneasy. Chism says his response was more emotional because he got to vote for the first time. This rang true for students on the other side, like Aaron Dean.
    “I was just kind of pissed off and didn’t want anyone to talk about it,” said Dean, sophomore in biology. “It stung a little more because I voted.”
    Dean says President Obama needs to work harder on improving the job market, lowering the unemployment rate and keep away from what he says is an unfair taxation on the wealthy.
    “I’d be really happy if he didn’t try to take money away from high-paying jobs, like doctors,” Dean said. “They work really hard for their education and shouldn’t have their money taken away.”
    Due to the divisive nature of American politics, students like Micah Black stress the importance of research and being informed when stepping into the political discussion.
    “I try to make an effort to be as informed as I can,” said Black, junior in political science and French. “I think it’s important as an American to know who you’re voting for, not just as a political science major. Today’s culture is interesting and extremely polarized politically. It’s important to really know the candidates and make a concerted effort to inform yourself, since political advertising can get so heated and negative.”
    Black says the new generation has the power to challenge the trademark polarization of American politics. She says young people could possibly bridge the gap between the many different ideologies that make up the country by the politicians that they don’t want to be divided as a nation.
    “Perhaps it sounds cliche, but young voters truly do shape the future of the political culture,” she said. “If we can show them that we want to see cooperation across ideological lines, then that is what we will begin to see.”


    What happens now?

    Marcus Clem | Collegio Reporter

    President Barack Obama earned another term on Nov. 6 by a sizable, if not quite landslide, margin. He received a little more than 50 percent of the popular vote and 303 electoral votes, as of Wednesday, Nov. 7 (270 were needed to win).
    Now, the nation proceeds to the business of governing.
    “Like a lot of Americans, I am relieved that it is over,” said Steve Scott, university president. “I think we all suffered some from campaign fatigue. The discourse and dialogue was not very positive, across the board.”
    Scott says he is hopeful the intense partisanship of the election year will be set aside to confront the host of challenges facing the nation’s government. The national debt continues to climb from the current level of $16 trillion; this poses a long-term problem. Set within it is a potential short-term crisis: the sequestered provisions of the Budget Control Act of 2011.
    Without action by the end of January, taxes at all income levels will go up and all sectors of government spending will be slashed by margins that will likely trigger a renewed economic recession.
    “This is a serious issue that is going to take some serious problem solving,” Scott said.
    With 55 Democrats in the 100-seat Senate, and 193 in the 435-seat House of Representatives, the president’s party cannot pass what is needed alone, even with the political capital gained by Tuesday’s vote.
    “There was no big single impact from the election,” said Michael Giffin, sophomore in chemistry and physics. “It is the same status quo. You still have a Republican majority in the House, a Democratic majority in the Senate. Obama will still be president. He still will not pass much legislation through. The problem is taxes are about to go up and Congress is going to have a hard time doing something with a divided House.”
    Some Republicans, like Aaron Heidebrecht, senior in political science, say the outcome is disappointing, and the future could be uncertain for students.
    “Everything that Obama has done prior to this has just been leading up to re-election,” he said. “Now that he is in his last four years of his presidency, he can basically do everything he has been planning on that he couldn’t do before. It’s kind of up in the air as to how it is going to affect us.”
    Mike Zuniga says that as a Democrat, he celebrates Obama’s re-election, but retains some worry about what the government can and will do.
    “I don’t have any loans, so I’m very fortunate,” said Zuniga, senior in graphic communications management. “I would love to see what the government is going to do about the loan problem. We don’t have any specifics.”
    Zuniga says the political gridlock confronting the new Congress, though a few seats changed hands it remains at relatively the same levels of representation, will make any major changes tough to come by.
    “Honestly, it is hard to come up with what you want to see happening without sounding like an idealist,” Zuniga said.
    Giffin says he is a Libertarian who voted for his party’s candidate, former governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson. While Johnson had no chance at victory, Giffin backed him as a protest vote against legislation like the National Defense Authorization Act of 2011, supported by both parties.
    That law, among other provisions, empowers federal agencies to indefinitely detain American citizens suspected of terrorism, and Giffin says this is an unconstitutional provision that outweighs all economic concerns.
    “We have trillions of dollars in debt, and it keeps going up,” he said. “No one seems to be talking about it. Unfortunately, people think that voting Libertarian is a waste of your vote, and it is not wasting your vote if it is something you believe in.”
    More commonly known problems like student loan debt are something that students, families and the government need to carefully examine, he says.
    “Students need to be fiscally responsible on their own and not take out quite so much loan money unless they have to. A lot of the student debt is not entirely necessary,” Giffin said. “This is not to say it is not still a problem, but students need to try to minimize it.”

  • SGA elections turnout highest in last decade

    Zach Wagner | Collegio Reporter

    Eric Jones, SGA president, announced Wednesday that, for the first time in 10 years, SGA elections tallied votes from more than 10 percent of the student body.
    “The minimum number is 681 votes for elections, and we’ve surpassed 800 after today,” Jones said. “This is by far the biggest voter turnout that SGA has seen in recent years.”
    Austin Osborn, SGA vice president, also announced that he completed a tuition committee meeting last week, and one of the biggest concerns about tuition costs centered on the salary rate for PSU instructors. Osborn says two financial instructors in the business department have left for other universities with better pay.
    “The business dean, Paul Grimes, came to us during our meeting and brought these salary issues to light for us,” Osborn said. “If you look at the numbers in comparison with other universities, PSU has to increase the salary rate at least 2 percent in tuition costs.”
    The Scantron scare is no more. Lara Ismert, SGA academic affairs director, says she ordered 4,000 Scantrons last week.
    SGA election results will be announced by 8:30 a.m. Friday.

  • Getting to know BOOM, ASAP

    BOOM (Break Out of the Menagerie) Party

    Lara Ismert

    Lara Ismert

    Presidential candidate Lara Ismert

    Q: What does it mean for students to “Break Out of the Menagerie”?

    A: The cool thing about a menagerie is that it not just a cage, it’s this collection of all sorts of unique animals, something that deserves to be outside. It’s fitting with having our mascot a Gorilla. More student ideas should be out in the open, and not squashed.

    Q: What are some past accomplishments you’ve aimed for in SGA?

    A: During the past year I came up with a weekly event on the Oval on Wednesdays, as a way to encourage students to gather concerns. SGA has an expectation of students coming straight to their organization. It’s important to notify our constituents about what’s going on around campus.

    Q: What has your campaign already implemented around PSU’s campus?

    A: We’ve used recyclable materials to make all of our posters and all of our signs around campus. We’ve started Sure Happy It’s Tuesday, essentially a preview of what next year’s weekly event will be like. We’re going to string all the answers to gathered students’ concerns, and post it on a Facebook page.”

    ASAP (All Students Advocacy Party)

    Kafui Alomenu

    Kafui Alomenu

    Presidential candidate Kafui Alomenu

    Q: What results would you like to see from an “All Students Advocacy Party”?

    A: Our keyword is advocacy, to seek students’ concerns and opinions. Address these in a timely fashion as much as we can. We want to work on initiatives that will make SGA not depend entirely on student fee dollars and dig into SGA savings. We wish to develop student leadership, starting from freshman level, because this is a group most likely to stay committed on campus.

    Q: What are some major ongoing issues PSU is currently dealing with?

    A: The major issue is the ever-increasing tuition and general college attendance cost. Besides that, there is a lack of involvement and participation in events besides football or basketball. We’d like to see other events in a form of intellectual or leadership-oriented that are not paid attention to. We therefore wish to put up motivating measures to psych student involvement in this. We wish to help students find a balance.

    Q: What are some future ideas that, if elected, you would seek to implement around PSU’s campus?

    A: We aim at making the entire student populace more aware of SGA, and its foundations by organizing opinion times outside of formal meeting hours. We intend to periodically meet constituents informally by ensuring senators and executives collectively approach all groups and students generally in a way that is not intimidating, seeking the other views and concerns and making them contribute to student government because every student is an automatic member of SGA and needs to be heard.”

    2012 SGA ELECTION CANDIDATES

    President
    Alomenu Kafui | ASAPIsmert Lara BOOM | Vice-President

    Stremel Edwin | ASAP

    Ward Sydney | BOOM

     College of Arts & Sciences

    Bell Clinton | BOOM

    Botkin Zachary | BOOM

    Foster Sierra | BOOM

    Gilbreath Audrey | BOOM

    Miller Jourdan | BOOM

    Osborn Austin | BOOM

    Saladino Elisa | INDY

    Woodruff Ryan | BOOM

    Wormington Joshua | BOOM

    York Alyssa | INDY

    Zoglman Jason | INDY

    College of Business

    Horvath Alex | BOOM

    Hulls Megan | BOOM

    Simoncic Jordan | BOOM

    College of Education

    Kunshek Jeanine | BOOM

    Reed Joshua | BOOM

    College of Technology

    Chastain Steve | INDY

    Martinez Rene | BOOM

    Saltat James | BOOM

    Schwenker Kyle | BOOM

    Tener Kerra | BOOM

    Senator At Large

    Bailey Cierra | ASAP

    Baldwin John | INDY

    Bonzo Dustin | BOOM

    Briski Eugene | BOOM

    Bui Minh | BOOM

    Casaert Kaitlynn | INDY

    Contreras Jose | ASAP

    Cruz Christain | BOOM

    Eigenmann Natasha | BOOM

    Giffin Michael | BOOM

    Gravett Taylor | BOOM

    Letner | Jake BOOM

    Mallatt Dakotah | INDY

    Mika Emily | BOOM

    Ong Lindsay | BOOM

    Pester Samuel | BOOM

    Spears Tim | BOOM

    Tucker Sarah | INDY

    Walker Elle | BOOM

    Warlop Heidi | BOOM

    Graduate Senator

    Adams Evan | INDY

  • Candidates debate campaign goals

    Zach Wagner | Collegio Reporter

    In a debate between the BOOM party and the ASAP party, candidates covered topics ranging from student apathy toward SGA to plans for enhancing everyday campus life, sharing their visions for PSU’s future in front of about 40 students.
    Eric Jones, SGA president, opened the debate by asking the candidates for their opinions on a recently published article about a possible disconnect between students and SGA.
    Sydney Ward, BOOM (Break Out of the Menagerie) party candidate for vice president, says that there is definitely an issue of student disconnect from SGA.

    Student Government Association presidential candidate Lara Ismert speaks during the Candidate Forum held on Tuesday, April 10, in Grubbs Hall. | Kenzi Jordan/Collegio

    Student Government Association presidential candidate Lara Ismert speaks during the Candidate Forum held on Tuesday, April 10, in Grubbs Hall. | Kenzi Jordan/Collegio


    “For too long we’ve had this reputation as this group of Greek elitists. I don’t think it’s the students’ fault, though,” said Ward, junior in communication. “It’s up to us, SGA, to make known that we want to make a difference and encourage student organizations to come to us for support.”
    Ward cited a recent event implemented by BOOM, titled “Sure Happy It’s Tuesday,” where members of PSU’s campus can notify SGA about their ongoing issues.
    Edwin Stremel, ASAP (All Students Advocacy Party) candidate for vice president, says he wishes to see a greater representation for organizations around PSU in the future.
    “What we really want to do is make sure we have a campus where everyone wants to be involved,” said Stremel, senior in automotive technology. “I think some organizations feel like they are disconnected from it all, therefore they feel disconnected. I don’t think that should happen.”
    Sen. Thomas Gregory asked the candidates for their stance on the proposed conceal and carry bill in the Kansas Legislature.
    Stremel says he sees no harm in the responsible carrying of a concealed firearm around campus.
    “If you look at the history, not a single massacre has taken place at schools with concealed and carry weapons rights,” Stremel said. “As is, you have to admit it doesn’t make it any less safe to allow it.”
    Ward says she wants to see a campus free of any weaponry, citing research that has shown the benefits of being firearm free.
    “In past years, SGA continued to be against allowing firearms on campus,” Ward said. “Police officers are put in more danger around campus if this were to be carried out and allowed.”
    The focus then shifted to the plans for making PSU a tobacco-free campus.
    Kafui Alomenu, presidential candidate for ASAP, says that the amount of time it takes to make the campus tobacco-free depends on how much students know about the plan.
    “’When is it going to happen?’ is a regular question,” said Alomenu, graduate student. “I think what we really need to do is get some more student attention for it. It’s for the better health of everyone.”
    Lara Ismert, presidential candidate for BOOM, says that making PSU a tobacco-free campus can be achieved in the near future.
    “I think that we’ll see less opposition for a future tobacco-free campus,” said Ismert, senior in English and math. “It’s definitely something that I’m excited to see happen in the coming years.”
    At the end of the debate, both candidates were asked what some of their top initiatives would be if they were elected.
    Alomenu says he hopes to increase student connectivity around PSU.
    “A big problem is just students not knowing what all is going on around the university,” Alomenu said. “When students aren’t able to be informed about what’s happening around campus, they won’t be able to get out in the open with their ideas. That is a big problem for those organizations wanting to gain attention and publicity.”
    Ismert says she hopes to make the university a “greener” campus, and improve student connectivity.
    “We need to partake in receptacles for recyclable materials,” Ismert said. “SGA should work to provide those for students, and they should make sure students know what’s going on during meetings.”
    Online voting for the next SGA leaders opened on April 11 and will close on April 19.

  • SGA fears lacks of Scantrons

    Zach Wagner | Collegio Reporter

    SGA has managed to keep an eye on current issues within the student body despite the ongoing SGA elections.
    Peter Kipp, SGA treasurer, says the deadline for allocations receipts is fast approaching: April 27.
    “We were able to run a smooth allocations process this last year, and we hope to wrap it up successfully,” Kipp said.
    Emily Smith, Big Event coordinator, informed members that the Big Event is fast approaching, and all student organizations involved need to report to the Weede at 9 a.m. Saturday.
    Senator Thomas Gregory says elections are in full swing. Sen. Gregory says that elections started Wednesday and students will be able to vote by going to their GUS accounts. Gregory also says that SGA is facing a shortage of Scantrons.
    “The big problem here is that we have finals week approaching, and it’s looking like we won’t have enough by the time that rolls around,” Gregory said. “We should possibly look into SGA’s budget in order to try and subsidize a deal.”
    Elections are set to continue throughout the week, ending April 19. Students may vote for candidates from the BOOM or ASAP party.

  • SGA to select Kaye Lynne Webb Spirit Award winner

    Gretchen Burns | Collegio Writer

    Danielle Geier, SGA public relations director, says the Kaye Lynne Webb Spirit Award is an annual award given to a spirited PSU student, faculty or staff member or a Pittsburg resident.
    “It is an award named after a wonderful woman who devoted years of service as the assistant to the president, has been an outstanding influence in the community and throughout her life has truly embodied the concept of Pitt State spirit.” said Geierm junior in communication.
    Geier says the Student Government Association accepted nominations for the Kaye Lynne Webb Spirit award last month and after the nominations are received, the SGA public relations committee, the public relations director and senators meet to select the recipient based on the nomination forms.
    “Each nomination form is read out loud, and each committee member ranks the information based on the criteria needed to exemplify the Kaye Lynne Webb spirit” Geier said.
    Geier says that the committee looks for qualities such as outstanding Pitt State spirit, involvement on campus and in the community, a passion for academics and work ethic and the actual recommendation from the nominator.
    Geier says they received five nominations that qualified for the Kaye Lynne Webb Spirit award this year. She says the recipient will be recognized at the annual SGA Old/New Senate Banquet on May 2. The winner will have his or her name displayed on the Kaye Lynne Webb Spirit Award plaque in the Overman Student Center and be listed with all previous recipients.
    After the banquet, the name of the winner of the Kaye Lynne Webb Spirit Award will be made known to the public.

  • SGA offers course credit

    Ross Schartel | Collegio Reporter

    Recently, the Student Government Association revived a course for its members that will allow those who participate to receive one hour of course credit for involvement per semester.
    “The credit is to encourage prospective students to participate in SGA,” said Austin Osborn, junior in biology and vice president of SGA.
    SGA isn’t the only organization that offers such a credit, but most of the others only offer it to certain members. The Student Ambassadors and Gorillas in Your Midst offer credit only to senior members while the Presidential Managing Program offers credit only to members who stick to the program’s criteria during their entire time at PSU.
    SGA adviser Steve Erwin says the class was not presented as a bill or a ballot measure presented to the student senate. Instead, it was put into effect by the group’s advisers. Erwin says the revival of the course was a joint initiative by faculty adviser David Adams and Peter Kipp, secretary-treasurer of SGA.
    “The course is a revival of a now discontinued closed course, once only offered to SGA cabinet members,” Erwin said.
    Erwin says that the revived course will be available to cabinet members and senators alike, meaning around 40 student members would qualify for the credit.
    Adams says that the credit is offered as a form of compensation since most of the members are volunteers and do not get paid for the service they provide the university.
    “It’s an incentive to help draw in more students, and hopefully retain them,” Adams said. “This year we have a large portion of both the Senate and cabinet graduating. We need more students to come, and more importantly, to stay.”
    Adams says the course is a combination of the student’s volunteer work, required hours in the SGA office and through coursework consisting of collecting information for upcoming meetings, ballot castings, projects and papers pertaining to the organization, and the biannual transition reports.
    Kipp says that the course is not required for members of SGA.
    “It is only a way of letting members choose whether or not to utilize the time they already spend with the organization,” said Kipp, junior in accounting. “In the weekly meetings with the full senate, in their departmentalized committees, and through individual constituent interactions.”
    Clinton Bell is not a member of SGA but believes that the course is a good way to reward members for the work they do for the university and for the students they represent.

    “They really do a lot more work than most other student groups,” said Bell, junior in psychology. “They aren’t a club, they actually represent the students and the school as a whole. If this encourages them to take their work a bit more seriously and not simply attend so that they have something said at their graduation, then I’m all for it.”

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  • SGA looks ahead

    Jessica Sewing | Collegio Writer

    The Student Government Association covered a lot of business during its weekly meeting, including community service events, proposed measures for the elections in April, and updating suggestion boxes.
    SGA discussed its 10th annual Big Event, which will take place on Saturday, April 14. The Big Event gives PSU students the opportunity to show gratitude to the local community for the support they give the university. Volunteers do small outdoor chores for citizens in need. In 2010, over 500 volunteers lent a hand to the massive community service project.
    SGA also discussed the upcoming Relay for Life that will be held in Pittsburg on April 20. Relay for Life is an overnight relay event that raises money for the American Cancer Society.
    SGA discussed its upcoming family art morning with the Art Club. They will prepare a scavenger hunt for the families that will take place March 10.
    Edwin Stremel, senior in auto technology, proposed purchasing new suggestion boxes to replace the outdated ones on campus. If approved, SGA would replace four current boxes, and would cost roughly $150.
    Sen. Thomas Gregory, senior in communication, submitted a proposal that could eventually ban tobacco on campus, including smokeless tobacco. According to the proposal, PSU has a long-standing commitment to student health and promoting healthy habits. If passed, the plan would be put to the entire student body for a simple yes or no vote.
    SGA also announced it is still taking nominations for The Kaye Lynne Webb Spirit Award. Nominees should be a student, faculty/staff member or community member who portrays outstanding school spirit. Nominations can be submitted to the SGA office until March 9 at 4:30 p.m. The recipients will be recognized at the annual SGA Old/New Senate Banquet at the end of the semester.
    A number of SGA members will travel to Missouri Southern State University on Feb. 29, where they will spend the afternoon with the MSSU student government organization.

    Students who wish to express their opinions on any topic relating to SGA are encouraged to attend the weekly meetings and voice their concerns.

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  • PSU students rally for Ron Paul

    JEN RAINEY | Collegio Reporter

    The Republican presidential primaries are heating
    up, and students on campus have been taking
    notice and taking action. The Pittsburg Chapter of
    Youth for Ron Paul, a new organization on campus,
    has been busy spreading information about
    Ron Paul, a candidate for the Republican Party’s
    nomination. The organization is open to all students,
    faculty, staff and residents.
    “I helped start the Pittsburg Chapter of the
    national Youth for Ron Paul organization because
    I wanted to help get people involved and to spread
    the message of liberty,” said Kyle Barton, junior in
    business management.
    Barton is the chapter treasurer. Other members
    include Bethany Wolverton, junior in communication,
    as chapter president, Andrew Benage, senior in
    communication, as vice president, and Ryan Clark,
    undeclared freshman, as secretary. Their adviser is
    Josh Tucker, applications developer in Information
    Services.
    “I believe in the Ron Paul message,” Tucker said.
    “Primarily, his strict adherence to the U.S. Constitution,
    his knowledge of economics and understanding
    of the current situation the world is in, not just
    economically, but also militarily.”
    Tucker says he plans to be as active an adviser as
    possible. He plans to help get the Ron Paul message
    out by helping group members engage other
    students in the “Cause for Liberty.”
    Dillon Barton says he joined the organization because
    he agrees with the stance Paul holds on issues.
    “I especially support his stance on the scope of
    government, individual liberty, his noninterventionist
    foreign policy, the emphasis he puts on sound
    money, his unrelenting adherence to the Constitution,”
    said Barton, senior in biology education. “One
    thing that really speaks volumes for Ron Paul as
    opposed to the other candidates is his consistency.”
    Members of the organization had an information
    table set up inside the Overman Student Center next
    to the book store Feb. 7 and Feb. 8.
    “This event helped us get out literature to people
    on campus and it helped them realize there’s more
    to an election than just voting for the president,”
    Barton said. “First, you have to make sure he’s
    chosen as the party’s candidate.”
    Members helped students get registered to vote
    and educated other students on Paul’s stance on
    issues like the economy, individual rights, limited
    federal government, the Constitution and the Bill
    of Rights. Barton says the organization also plans
    to be involved in signing waivers and campaigning
    door to door, holding rallies and organizing local
    caucuses.
    Barton says that on Feb. 10, the organization will
    team with the Southeast Kansas for Ron Paul group
    to host the Grassroots Rally for Ron Paul. The event
    will take place at the Cherokee County Hospitality
    Center in Columbus. There, they will listen to local
    speakers discuss why they support Paul’s policies
    and ideas. There will be a voter registration table,
    free Ron Paul gear (such as bumper stickers and
    yard signs). T-shirts and the “Liberty” movie will be
    shown. A discussion on the caucus will be held and
    will include how and where to vote, as well as why
    it’s important to win the caucuses.
    “I think if you’re going to get the message out, a
    college campus anywhere is a good place to start,”
    said Michael Buddenhagen, freshman in automotive
    technology. “Facebook is a good way to tell people
    about something, but actually being active and
    doing things like putting a fl ier in front of someone

    will make them pay more attention.”

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  • SGA, administration debate student safety

    Jay Benedict | Managing Editor

    Questions about Pittsburg State’s crisis response strategies and policies overshadowed Student Government Association’s regular business at last night’s meeting.
    Academic affairs director Lara Ismert brought concerns about students’ safety after attending Tuesday’s Faculty Senate meeting. She said the senate discussed running campus intruder drill to be more prepared in the event a gunman would ever open fire on campus. Ismert proposed drafting a resolution asking university administration to run the campus-wide simulation.
    “I think it’s important that the students and faculty know what to do in the event of an intruder,” said Ismert, junior in math and English. “And we should show Faculty Senate that we support them running the drill.”
    Steve Erwin, associate vice president of campus life and auxiliary services and the SGA adviser, says that running a drill for an intruder might not be beneficial.
    “You’ve got two choices in that situation: barricade yourself in if you feel safe or flee,” Erwin said. “Every situation is different, and you have to use common sense to decide what course of action is best.”
    Erwin says that’s why the university doesn’t have an umbrella policy for how students and faculty should react to a campus intruder. It’s easy to implement a policy with younger people or on campuses that are all uniform. Also, it’s hard to gauge how people will react. College students will do what they want, regardless of policy or faculty instruction.
    “All of our buildings are different. We would need a different plan for every square foot of our 400-acre campus,” Erwin said.
    The university does have a policy with emergency responders. They’ve run several tabletop simulations with law enforcement and crisis response personnel.
    “We’ve learned a lot from the tragedies other institutions have faced,” Erwin said. “Now, our primary response is to eliminate the threat.”
    Balancing students’ rights
    Ismert also proposed drafting a resolution asking the university to create policy regarding how much force campus police can use on students who are protesting on campus. She referenced the pepper spray incident at the University of California-Davis.
    “Where is the line drawn for how physical campus police can get with unarmed students?” Ismert said.
    Erwin says Pitt State doesn’t have an umbrella policy in place because there are too many scenarios to script everything. He says student rights don’t stop on campus, but there is a difference between a peaceful protest and disrupting the educational environment.
    “Our standard operating procedure is to balance free expression and keeping an educational environment intact,” Erwin said. “And the courts back that up.”
    SGA decided to start writing the legislation so it can be reviewed and voted on before sending it to the Faculty Senate.
    SAC’s grand prize
    Also topping last night’s business was the Student Activities Council asking for SGA’s support in funding the grand prize at this year’s comedy night event. SAC wants to use student fees to fund the winner’s travel and hotel expenses on a trip to Los Angeles to see a taping of “Chelsea Lately.” The anticipated cost is about $900, and SAC hopes to offset most of the cost by charging community and faculty members $10 for tickets. The event is Feb. 24 at 8 pm. SGA voted to support the use of the fees.
    Amending the constitution
    The group also voted to send three items to referendum during the elections this spring. They are all small changes to the wording of the SGA constitution. One changes Erwin’s title from vice president of campus life to what it currently is. Another removes a cabinet position that is no longer in use and adds a Big Event chair to the constitution. The last increases cabinet members’ minimum GPA from 2.25 to 2.75. All three will be on the ballot later this spring and it takes a 10 percent vote from the student body to ratify them.
    Election board chair Tom Gregory, senior in communication, says there will be a big push to inform students about the three items previously mentioned and the tobacco-free campus initiative because they all require student ratification. He also said they will be holding more information sessions about running for office because as many as 14 more seats could be added to SGA to compensate for PSU’s growing enrollment. There must be one representative for every 200 students.

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