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Proposed gun bill discussed

SGA discussed a recent visit with the Board of Regents, a bill that would allow guns on campus, and issues involving Spring Break scheduling during a meeting Monday night in the U.C Magnolia room.

President Graham Davis and Vice President Derika Powers, as well as Senators Reginald Merritt and Christopher Hawkins, met with Regents Benjamin Tarbutton and Rusty Griffin, to discuss a few issues including school consolidation.

In order to cut costs, eight Georgia colleges and universities have been recommended to merge into four schools, which raised some concerns among SGA members.

“Someone had asked about a second list of other schools that may be consolidated later on, and Regent Tarbutton responded that this Board of Regents currently has no plans for a second list,” Powers said. “There is no telling what future Regents plan on doing, so as of right now, the only schools that are being consolidated are the first eight.”

The schools being merged together are Gainesville State, North Georgia College & State University, Middle Georgia College, Macon State, Waycross College, South Georgia College, Augusta State and the Georgia Health Sciences University.

Powers also explained that the nation is watching Georgia to see how this consolidation goes, as Georgia is the first state in the union to actually merge.

“We’re the first state that has actually gone through with consolidating schools,” Powers said. “Other states have mentioned it and talked about it, but no one’s followed through with it, so we’re under a magnifying glass to see if this works out.”

Also mentioned was funding for the HOPE scholarship, and how requirements for HOPE have changed, as well as how alternative funding has been suggested for the scholarship.

“Basically, my question was along the lines of is there a plan for saving HOPE for future generations to come,” Senator Reginald Merritt said regarding a question asked to Regent Tarbutton. “He basically said that, the last few years, (they have been) changing requirements for HOPE, so we really don’t have anything to worry about.”

Davis chimed in, mentioning the possibility of alternative funding being used to help fund the scholarship.

“Currently, it’s funded by the lottery, and you all probably know that,” Davis said, “but there are other forms of gambling that go on in the state, like horse racing, and dog racing.

“I’m not condoning any of that, and the Board of Regents wouldn’t either, but they are looking into alternate forms of revenue to help offset the cost of HOPE and where we are falling short.”

In addition, Senator Jeffrey Brown discussed the possible adjustment of breaks, such as eliminating fall break, while Senator Tyler Barker mentioned an adjustment to Spring Break, which is a follow-up to something that was mentioned by Comptroller Drew McCall at a meeting a month ago.

“Something that came up was extending Thanksgiving Break, and eliminating Fall Break,” Brown said, “but if we were to do this, there would be calls to extend the breaks, and to keep the fall breaks. Also, we have an approved calendar for the fall of 2013 to the summer of 2014.”

Senator Barker then mentioned the Spring Break issue.

“At an earlier meeting, the Comptroller mentioned that education majors were working with the school systems around the area with the internships, and they were complaining that their spring breaks were not in line with the school systems, and they brought that up,” Barker said.

“Most students want it in the middle of the semester, so what they’re doing is they’re considering it for next year, and working with the school systems to try to get that.”

Kathryn Grant, a senior general studies major, spoke to the SGA about House Bill 981, which would relax restrictions on concealed handguns on campus.

Grant, who expressed her opposition to the issue one week ago in the Spectator, said that she was “really concerned” about the issue, and has started a petition with a Georgia Tech student.

Senator Amber Worthy proposed an education session, where students would be educated on this potential legislation that would be passed. Grant liked the idea.

“I think that is a great idea, and I think that, too, would be a wonderful opportunity to bring in people who represent both sides (of the issue), so we can have a discussion about it.”

Powers then said that an educational session would be set up for students on the bill, and clarified some parts of the current gun law.

“Just for clarification, if you have a gun permit, there are stipulations on where you can and cannot carry your gun, and government institutions and public schools are on that list, so they are currently not allowed on campus,” she said.

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