For Immediate Release
Friday April 20, 2018
SCHOOLS SHOULD BE GUN-FREE
Virginia Tech University, Sandy Hook Elementary School, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are the sites of the three deadliest mass shootings in U.S. educational institutions since 2000. Even one student, teacher, administrator, or staff member dead by gun violence on school grounds is too many, but already hundreds have died and scores have been injured. Enough is enough.
As teachers, and teachers of teachers, we, the elected Higher Education Chapter Executive Board representatives of Local 509 of the Service Employees International Union, join the AAUP, AFT, AAC&U, the students of #MarchForOurLives, and many other individuals and groups, in affirming that in these United States guns have no place in classrooms or on college and university campuses. We reject the idea that teachers carrying guns will increase anyone’s safety. Our position is both a workplace issue and a human rights issue.
As a workplace issue, it has three key interrelated dimensions: our ability to fulfill our responsibility to facilitate our students’ learning; our commitment to the unfettered, critical discussion of ideas, a principle of both academic freedom and democracy; and our working conditions. The presence of guns in schools would damage academic exchange, with students and faculty alike fearful of violent reactions to conversations about ideas. Additionally, it would create unsafe working conditions and make unreasonable demands on workers to fulfill duties contrary to our educational mission.
As a human rights issue, sensible gun policies permit students to exercise their right to an education, which has been pursued as policy in the United States since the establishment of our first public schools and is protected under Article 28 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Moreover, we are mindful that, given the deeply entrenched racism of our society, guns in schools will present heightened risk to teachers, students, administrators, and staff of color.
For these reasons, we also endorse the 2015 Statement Opposing ‘Campus Carry’ Laws put forth by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB). We stand behind the Statement, which notes in part: “Colleges and universities closely control firearms and prohibit concealed guns on their campuses because they regard the presence of weapons as incompatible with their educational missions. College campuses are marketplaces of ideas, and a rigorous academic exchange of ideas may be chilled by the presence of weapons.”
As a nation we must protect our educational system from pre-school to university, a system that shapes us and should serve to unite our citizens. We categorically reject the idea of adding guns to our schools and campuses. Sensible gun laws and their careful implementation are overdue.
SEIU 509 Higher Education Coordinator