April 24, 2018 – Santa Fe College hosted a town hall discussion on campus safety Monday, April 23, in the E-Auditorium. SF President Dr. Jackson N. Sasser moderated the panel comprised of state legislators Senator Keith Perry (R-8), Representative Clovis Watson (D-20) and Representative Charles W. Clemons (R-21). Attendees, comprised of SF students, faculty and staff were able to write questions for the legislators that Dr. Sasser read verbatim.
Although there were disagreements on issues concerning conceal carry, campus carry (two issues that were not in the most recent legislative session) and provisions in the Marjory Stoneman Douglass Act, the legislators agreed that more needed to be done to make schools and college campuses safer.
Representative Watson, who voted against the Marjory Stoneman Douglass Act, said although there were many good things contained within the bill, including hardening of facilities and increased funding for mental health, he was troubled by the provisions that could allow faculty and staff at schools to be armed. Watson also said that as a former law enforcement officer, his concerns would be how law enforcement would handle an active shooter situation when they could not necessarily differentiate between the attacker and an armed good Samaritan attempting to neutralize the threat.
Clemons, who also serves as the Vice President for Advancement at SF, said he voted in favor of it because, despite any flaws in the bill, the funding for mental health and campus security was too important to him to vote against the measure.
Senator Perry also voted in favor of the bill and said that he is open to making adjustments to the bill and was willing to discuss the issue with his constituents about any potential changes.
Dr. Sasser told the audience, which included a visiting delegation from Pakistan, that the ability to hold these kinds of discussions and have agreements and disagreements with all of the politicians is just one of the things that makes our country great.