Statement from UT Martin Chancellor Keith Carver regarding SGA resolution
Contact 1: Bud Grimes
MARTIN, Tenn. – (background) The University of Tennessee at Martin Student Government Association has debated the issue of concealed carry of firearms on campus. A group of SGA senators introduced a resolution supporting this issue, which moved through the proper channels of being reviewed by the student senate.
Another group of students filed a petition calling for a student referendum vote on the issue. That vote was held Dec. 5, and more than 1,400 students voiced their opinion. Nearly 55 percent of the students disagreed with concealed carry for students on campus, and nearly 90 percent of the students indicated that they feel safe on the UT Martin campus.
The resolution on campus carry was brought to a vote at the Dec. 7 senate meeting and passed by a measure of 17-10. The referendum vote and the legislation are independent actions.
On Dec. 12, the SGA president signed the legislation, which now goes to UT Martin Chancellor Keith Carver for consideration.
The following is a response from Dr. Carver related to these events:
“I will not sign the non-binding UT Martin Student Government Association resolution supporting students on our campus to carry concealed weapons.
“My response is not to challenge the actions of the SGA. Tennessee law does not permit students to carry guns on any public college campus. We, as a university, will abide by the law. In addition, I personally do not believe that having more guns on our campus is in line with our focus on safety and student success.
“In the recent referendum, during which more than 20 percent of our students voted, the majority felt that our campus today is safe and is opposed to having concealed guns being carried on campus. A majority of our SGA decided to move ahead with a resolution in support of concealed carry.
“Through recent events, I am hopeful that our students and campus community have a better understanding of the democratic process that is the foundation of our nation. We have seen it in practice: the right to express an opinion in a referendum, the right of those in elected office to choose a different course of action, and the right for those in opposition to speak out. I encourage all members of the university community to respect the rights and opinions of others in regard to this conversation. This is democracy in action and on display.”