Lafayette College Student Government approved College Republicans’ budget for this year, in which they asked for funds to go to a shooting range.
Nicole Eng ’19, vice president of College Republicans, said that there are misconceptions about gun ownership in the media that the group wanted to address. Additionally, Eng said that there were educational activities for the group before their visit to the shooting range.
“The media has perpetuated misinformation and misconceptions about guns and gun ownership. We felt that it was extremely important, especially in light of recent tragedies, to learn how to safely handle a firearm and get instruction on firearm safety,” Eng wrote in an email.
Student representative Pascual Ventura ’19 said that he took issue with student government funding this activity. His main concern was that student government went against the college’s stance against promoting gun violence on campus.
“If we’re not holding ourselves to those standards then I’m going to make sure that, despite whatever personal feelings I have towards the event, we are doing our best in school to uphold ourselves to our words, and I don’t think we’re doing that,” Ventura said.
“To me, it seemed odd that we were approving a budget for a group of students to go to a shooting range, yet as a school, we make a promise that we were going to keep the people on this campus safe, and we were going to remove ourselves from anything that promoted gun violence,” Ventura said. “But here we are, allocating college money resources to an organization that is going to go ahead and [use] guns.”
According to Bilal Akbar ’18, president of student government, as long as the budget request follows the budget guidelines, they do not have any reasons to refuse funds.
“College Republicans are a recognized student organization, and as such, as long as their budget request does not come into conflict with the rules we have set out in our budget guidelines, or with the aim of the student organization requesting the budget, we have no grounds to refuse them the funds,” Akbar wrote in an email.
According to treasurer Jesse Glaser ’19, only one member of Student Government was opposed to the funding.
“When I submitted the budget to our General Body for approval, there was an absolute majority approving the budget, with only one General Body member in opposition after the vote passed,” Glaser wrote in an email.
Vice President of Campus Life Annette Diorio said that there are no policies that prohibit using the college’s money to go to a shooting range.
“There’s no college policy that says you can’t use our money to go to a legitimately operating shooting range. We don’t allow guns on our campus, but that doesn’t mean students can’t use a gun, not on our campus. Certainly, if they’re using it legally there is no problem there,” she said.
Ventura said student government’s reason for approving funding was that the College Republicans were abiding by their constitution.
“The reason that was given to me why it was approved because it went with the constitution of the College Republicans, and also [that] they were going to learn how to safely use firearms,” Ventura said.
Glaser said that student government looked at the budget rules and regulations and found that the program fell within their budgeting guidelines.
“Although I am the head of the Budget Committee, all members have a say in our recommendation to the General Body, who then approve or reject our recommendations,” Glaser wrote in an email. “In making our decision, we looked at our budget rules and regulations, found that the program fell within our budgeting authority and within the requirements of the organization, and recommended approval for the budget to the General Body. This goes for all budget decisions.”