The prospect of gun-toting classmates is one that does not sit well with many students in Florida, and a pair of bills that recently made their way successfully through Florida Senate committees are causing a stir on USF’s campus.
In response to the proposed allowance of concealed weapons on campus, Student Government (SG) will be hosting an event called Debate-a-Bull that will allow students to voice their opinions on campus carry.
According to SG Senator and event creator Chris Johnson, the event will include two two-person teams that will debate for and against the issue. He said the audience will also have a role, as their votes will be counted to determine who won the debate.
“We (will) gauge the opinion on the topic before the debate, and after the debate, open it up for a question and answer period,” he said.
The goal of the debate, Johnson said, will be to determine what the actual student body opinion is on the topic.
As the issue has grown in the public eye, supporters have claimed guns will allow students “to defend themselves against active shooters or sexual assault attacks,” according to the Miami Herald.
On the other hand, opponents that include police chiefs, university presidents and professors, have claimed that argument is unsound.
“… There are not enough police on or near college campuses to thwart the threat,” according to an article in the Sun Sentinel.
Meanwhile, students have not been able or willing to speak up as a group and provide self-survey results to illustrate how this population feels about campus carry.
To that end, Johnson said Debate-a-Bull will be covered by local media in order to increase awareness of what the students actually believe.
“(We) really want to increase the access of students to (SG), particularly to feel that their voices are being represented,” Johnson said. “(SG) isn’t able to give an opinion for or against concealed carry, but what we are able to do is make the stage for students to get their opinions out there.”
Johnson said the debate will aim to impact the local debate, specifically at USF.
“These politicians are talking about something that will affect the lives of everyone at my school, and I feel like it’s only appropriate that they understand that these lives are people.”
Debate-a-Bull will take place in the Marshall Student Center Amphitheatre during Spring Week of Welcome. The date will be finalized when the debaters are chosen.
Applications for positions as debaters will be accepted through an online form that will be released next week, and candidates will be selected based on their ability to reason, rather than any sort of specialized knowledge of the topics.