Schapiro plans trips to Springfield and D.C. to discuss gun control

Cat Zakrzewski, Assistant In Focus Editor

A mere signature on a petition is not enough for University President Morton Schapiro, who will travel to Springfield, Ill., and Washington, D.C., to further the gun control discussion.

More than 350 presidents of colleges and universities have signed the College Presidents for Gun Safety petition since it launched in December in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Schapiro told The Daily about his plan in an email Thursday and said his name was not featured on the petition because he felt he could do more.

“The reason I don’t simply add my name is that I don’t think they make a substantive difference in the policy world,” Schapiro wrote. “For a cause as important as gun control, I find it to be more effective to speak directly with representatives in Springfield and in D.C. about that matter.”

He did not share any specifics about his planned trips.

“Successful lobbying is done quietly,” Schapiro wrote in a follow-up email Thursday night.

Schapiro also explained he receives several petitions per week for many different causes. This particular petition gained notoriety at a press event Feb. 4 when Secretary of Education Arne Duncan endorsed it along with Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the executive committee of the American Association of Universities, the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrations and the United States Student Association.

Schapiro’s announcement of his upcoming trips came just a day after the Associated Student Government officially nominated members to the Ad-hoc Committee on Firearm Regulation.

The bill creating the committee and a resolution advocating for increased gun control passed amid controversy last week in ASG Senate. The resolution urges President Barack Obama and Congress to work together to reduce gun violence. It also states the Northwestern student body supports improved gun regulations.

ASG Speaker Ani Ajith said Schapiro’s announcement confirms the importance of this issue to NU students.

“This shows President Schapiro is responsive when students support action on an issue,” Weinberg junior said. “His travel and movement on this issue indicates it is very much relevant and validates the concept that this community and institution have a role to play in this debate.”

Steven Monacelli, ASG vice president for community relations, will chair the Committee on Firearm Regulation. Monacelli, who co-authored the legislation that passed last week, said he was looking forward to see what comes of Schapiro’s visits.

“I think that’s fantastic news,” Monacelli said. “We had not been in any direct contact with (Schapiro) following the passage of the legislation. We had planned to consider working with him once we had developed a bit more support.”

Monacelli said the committee has not yet been able to schedule a meeting, but members will soon be “hashing out” the principles they will write about in letters to politicians and reaching out to other Chicago area colleges and universities.

Representatives from the College Republicans did not respond to The Daily for comment as of press time. However, several students from the organization disagreed with ASG’s involvement in the gun control debate. President Dane Stier spoke against the legislation at the Jan. 29 Senate meeting.

“This is a very contentious issue right now,” the Weinberg junior said. “We’re trying to make sure that no student is left out of any decisions made by ASG when there’s no reason that they have to be.”