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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

SODA’s stance on guns

Published: November 16, 2007
Section: Opinions

Chrissy Callahan recently had an editorial in The Hoot about the public safety officers at Brandeis University (“Give the police a chance,” Nov. 9). This is the only way I can characterize the piece;

it did not seem to really address the issue of arming said officers. She proved her points very well, but they did not seem to respond to the criticisms of Students Opposing the Decision to Arm (SODA) and others. As a member of SODA, I would like to address Callahans article and the framing of the argument in general.

Callahan largely writes about defending the character of the public safety officers. This is fine in and of itself, but I cannot think of one SODA article or related piece of material that attacked the character, competence or dedication of our public safety officers. She is debating charges no one made, while accusing us of being uninformed and ignorant regarding the issue. SODA does not endorse the view that the Brandeis police are ignorant rent-a-cops or anything so ridiculous;

this piece is written as though it were defending against those very charges.

She also says no other police department would be criticized for having guns, forgetting many of the outrages committed at the trigger fingers of the NYPD and LAPD throughout the 1990s, many under the supervision of a certain Republican party front-runner. The issue of armed police forces is hardly foreign to debate.

Callahan conspicuously fails to mention reports and allegations of abuse in recent years by public safety officers. Any debate over the issue simply must include these considerations. President Reinharz personally vowed, in his office hours with me and thirty or so of my fellow concerned students, to investigate allegations of harassment, and the perceptions of the police in student minority populations. Callahan hesitates to mention what Reinharz commendably accepted.

Speaking of Reinharz, I would like to add tangentially that SODA and the other independent student voices who met with him, by and large found him to be personable, reasonable, cooperative, and respecting of our concerns. It has been brought to the attention of SODA that some see us as a group dedicated to defaming Reinharz and attacking him;

Callahan refers to the Salem witch hunt environment (which, incidentally, is a charge rarely labeled against opposition movements and one I find rather puzzling) and we would like to maintain that while we still strongly oppose the decision and the process, we are committed to addressing it in a civilized fashion.

Most of all, Callahan, like many others, misses the fundamental nature of our opposition to guns on campus. We do not believe that the students will become target practice for overzealous police officers.

While we are concerned about the possibility for abuse, we believe the administration has made no effort to prove to us that guns will make us safer, and that they will not create a climate of intimidation contrary to the Brandeis reputation of an open institution, and permanently alter the largely positive, healthy environment we have today.