With news coverage of Newtown slowly fading from our TV screens and Twitter feeds, colleges are taking the debate on gun control to dormitories and dining halls, with our own president at the forefront.
President M. Lee Pelton’s initiative — which launched on Dec. 20 and has already been signed by 255 fellow college and university leaders — doesn’t endorse one particular viewpoint, but calls for campuswide discussions about the complex issues surrounding gun rights.
As individuals at Emerson, we are all a part of a whole, and as a community, it is necessary for us to communicate and advocate for what we feel passionately about. A college campus, at its core, is an environment in which ideas flourish, and few issues have called for unification like this one — too many lives have been lost, and the stakes are too high. While many politicians and lobbyists are quick to choose a stance on the issue of guns and gun control, a dialogue that’s open and devoid of politicization is crucial — and Pelton understands that.
As students, it is incumbent upon us to follow Pelton’s lead and not only participate in a discussion concerning gun violence, but also promote it. By inviting the student body to take part in the initiative, Pelton has opened a channel of commu- nication more effective than using a Facebook status as a soapbox. If students want to make their voices heard, they should give attention to Pelton’s initiative and seize the rich opportunities our campus media presents.
For spearheading an initiative regarding gun control in such a highly-charged political climate, Pelton should be congratulated for his tact, especially regarding such a delicate subject. As the vanguard of the college’s image, Pelton proved himself as a guiding voice for other institutions and a worthy representation of the Emerson community. By Pelton’s own aspiration to use the “bully pulpit” of his college presidency, this initiative sets a valuable precedent that ought to be continued.
Both the student body and Pelton must remain committed to these discussions, especially at a time when public opinion affords us the the power to effect real change. Pelton must follow through on his pledge to host events that examine a range of perspectives on gun violence, and we must match his efforts by genuinely engaging in those conversations.
While tweeting an aphorism is easier than sitting down for a debate, that won’t change the status quo. And these proposed conversations — no matter how small — might be what prevents the next tragedy.