Students voice concerns to Senate about campus gun laws, representation


Alli Cummings, SA Reporter

Things got heated last night as several students voiced their concerns about campus gun rights at the Students’ Association meeting on Feb. 25.

Keegan Reeves, who was representing various conservative student groups, spoke during public comments to represent “students who feel the gun rights issues wasn’t given a chance to be fully represented by both sides,” when it came to SA’s unanimous passage of Resolution 18-09-R.

“We feel we were truly ignored,” Reeves said.

Other students along with Reeves spoke to expressed their concerns that SA failed to represent the entirety of the student body.

In response, Sen. Nick Lorang explained the vote on 18-09-R was not a vote in favor or against campus gun-rights, but a vote supporting the decisions of the Board of Regents, especially concerning Senate Bill 122, which supported taking away the BOR’s ability to control firearm laws for universities.

“We support the Board of Regents. Both resolutions affirmed our confidence in their ability to make policies for South Dakota public universities,” Sen. Lorang said.

The Athletics Memorandum of Understanding draft was another issue debated for a while.

While the draft was complete Friday, the task force was waiting for a response from the university’s legal counsel, Tracy Greene, however, it didn’t come, causing the delay, according to President Allyson Monson. The MOU is six pages long and was only given to the senators 10 hours before the meeting. Furthermore, Senate ex-officio members did not see it at all prior to the meeting. This created a debate to table the resolution.

However, Senators who have been working on the MOU taskforce since the GAF strategic plan’s passage stressed that it is a draft and can be amended in the future.

“This is not a contract, it is an understanding with Athletics to pursue what is laid out in this memorandum,” Sen. Dominick Weber said.

In the end, SA passed the Athletics MOU with a 21-7 vote.

Resolution 18-12-R was passed, which would implement Purple Heart parking signs on campus. However, with free parking already offered to Purple Heart recipients on campus, Sen. Megan Kellen questioned if the signs were really necessary.

“We decided this was a unique situation and a little bit more of an honor, which is why we feel the need to show more visibility,” Sen. Corey Berscheit said.

Additionally, Resolution 18-13-R was passed. This represents the increased General Activity Fee Strategic Plan and how the money will be divided. President Allyson Monson explained that although the Resolution seems redundant, this is how the Board of Regents prefers the documents.

Vice President of Student Affairs Doug Wermedal and Director of Student Health and Counseling Tamara Lunday took the floor to propose an increased budget for student health services, which was later passed unanimously.

With several new additions to the Wellness Center such as group counseling sessions, extended hours on Tuesday evenings, and scheduling through a portal, additional staff and services are needed to accommodate students’ needs.

According to Vice President Wermedal, these changes have resulted in a 15 percent increase in student health and a 12 percent increase in counseling appointments. Tamara Lunday said, “We really try to get outside of our walls and get into the campus community.”

Sen. Nick Lorang also spoke about Higher Learning Commission (HLC) accreditation. Explaining what HLC is, Lorang said, “It’s one of the few accrediting bodies to basically say our university is legit.” Additionally, the process judges the university’s progress and decides if improvements need to be made.

Sen. Lorang stressed the importance of student involvement in this process. He stated, “Students will take a survey three months prior to the accreditation. Our input matters just as much as everyone else involved in this process.”

According to Lorang, students may also be asked to attend meetings to provide feedback or answer questions the HLC representatives ask.

The Student Union Budget was an item of new business. The budget increased due to Governor Noem’s proposal of a two and a half percent increased salary for state employees.

The Ecology Club took the floor to raise awareness for their organization. According to representatives, they are brainstorming ideas and coming up with events on campus to expose more people to the outdoors.

A Special Allocation for the Investment Club was passed as well, unanimously. Investment Club President Justin Price spoke on behalf of the club and stated that the money is for a trip to Boston, MA for the Harvard Business Investment Conference.

Price spoke of the many opportunities the Investment Club has to offer and said, “I was inspired [by past trips] and that is why I’m here today as President.”

The Crafty Jacks Constitution was also passed.

“The idea is to get people to come in, collaborate and share ideas and brighten up people’s day. It’s a great stress relief outlet,” according to club representatives.

Senators were enthusiastic about this club and were very excited to pass it.

“My heart is so full,” Sen. Amber Alvey said.

Presidential and vice presidential elections closed tonight. The race will be against current President Monson running with Sen. Berscheit and Sen. Carter Hunter with Sen. Amanda Huested.

Students’ Association will meet again at 7 p.m. March 11 in the Lewis and Clark room of the Student Union.