Staff Editorial: Refocusing input on guns

Do you have an opinion about the University Police Department having guns? Good luck offering up those views to anyone who matters.

Consultants from James Lee Witt Associates are still analyzing the need for guns on campus and are currently conducting focus groups to get student opinion. The students have been chosen to represent a diverse cross-section of the student body. This is great in that we will get an idea of how everyone from undergraduates to commuter students feel – if they happen to be in a focus group.

If you didn’t happen to be selected, well, like we said before, good luck. The only clear way to make your views heard now is to send a letter or e-mail – although the University doesn’t seem to know which address these are supposed to go to.

There are many things that GW actively seeks feedback on, whether it is online course evaluations or the customer service in J Street. However, for perhaps the most important issue currently facing the GW community, no e-mail address has been publicized and no online survey has been distributed.

In the Web 2.0 era, data collection is not rocket science. The focus groups are a good start, but the school should be embracing every opportunity to get the community’s feedback. At this point, even a poorly attended town hall would be preferable to this almost secretive approach. We’re not talking about dining hours or even about academics; the wrong decision here could literally be a matter of life and death.

This decision of whether to arm UPD has two very legitimate sides with valid arguments from both camps. However, it is important to remember that we are not talking about guns in the abstract. The debate is about whether firearms belong in Foggy Bottom in the hands of our UPD officers. Every member of our community deserves to be a part of this conversation – no exceptions.

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