UT Martin students stage sit-in after controversial conceal carry vote
MARTIN, Tenn. — Students at a University of Tennessee at Martin are taking a stance against a controversial resolution allowing students to carry weapons on campus. Several students we spoke with said the Student Government Association did not listen to what the student body wanted.
“We feel that the will of the people, the will of the students at this school were violated,” said SGA Attorney General Devin Majors. Students and several SGA Senators staged at sit-in at the SGA office after they passed a concealed carry resolution, Thursday night.
It would allow students to lawfully carry concealed weapons on campus. Although it received a majority of ‘yes’ votes from SGA Senators, 250 students who voted in the referendum on Tuesday did not show the same support.
In the referendum vote: 89 percent agreed that students feel safe on campus, 54 percent disagreed students with a Tennessee concealed carry permit should be allowed to carry a concealed firearm on campus and 58 percent disagreed they would feel safer if students were allowed to carry a concealed firearm on campus.
“Every student at this University is a member of SGA and we are supposed to have some kind of representation and when our representation is going against what we want and we told them how we felt in the referendum and they still vote however they please that makes us all upset about it,” said Majors.
After much debate, the resolution was passed 17-10. Now several SGA Senators and many students are opposing the vote and want SGA President Jordan Long to veto it.
“If the student body had spoken and said they wanted to pass this bill I would’ve taken that defeat myself and personally done things that I felt needed to do for my own self,” said UTM student Alex Williams.
They said they feel the senators who voted for it were pushing their own personal agenda and have been sitting outside Long’s office all afternoon.
“I think it is most important for the Student Government Association to go with the will of the students.. it is important for us to listen to our constituents,” said SGA Vice President Breydon Horton.
Majors and the other Senators who oppose the bill are now asking the UT Martin Administration to intervene and reform the SGA.
We reached out to SGA President Long for a comment he said the vote on the resolution is not set in stone. To take affect it would have to be approved by the Tennessee General Assembly and signed by Governor Haslam.
“I have the upmost respect for those who support or oppose the resolution,” said Long. “I am taking into consideration what the student body wants and will make a decision in the next two weeks.”