Tag Archives: University of Washington

The right to bear arms: ‘The second amendment shouldn’t just shut off’

Last Mother’s Day Evan Wallesen, a UW senior and president of Students for Concealed Carry (SFCC), bought his mom a gun.

While a gun is not your average Mother’s Day gift, coming from Wallesen, it made sense.

“I’ve taken her to the range, I got her her carry permit,” said Wallesen, who also has a carry permit and carries a gun with him everywhere he goes, except the UW campus. “If I am competent enough to carry a gun everywhere else, then why not the place I spend most of my time?”

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Last year, Wallesen and two other UW students, Laycee Hyde and Shannon Harris, who have since graduated, started SFCC. The club was intended to be social, a place where students could gather and, as Wallesen puts it, “go shooting and not be hated on.”

To inaugurate the club and raise awareness of its existence, the three founding members stood in Red Square wearing orange jumpsuits, holding signs that read “Criminals love gun-free zones.”

In a not-so-subtle way, they were attempting to highlight their view that banning guns puts students in greater danger, as they are not able to protect themselves.

“Right now, what is stopping a crazy person from walking on campus with a gun?” Wallesen said. “If I have my gun, I am the first line of defense. … the crazy person who wants to kill a bunch of people doesn’t care about the law. If you have decided to commit murder, you aren’t going to care about the felony you get by walking on campus with a gun.”

Despite the confrontational nature of this public display, Wallesen isn’t normally aggressive about his politics. He labels himself fiscally conservative and socially progressive. When it comes to guns, he agrees with the right-wingers: no limitations.

He is knowledgeable, excited, and surprisingly genial as he discusses gun legislation — open versus concealed carry, mental health, and politicians’ views on guns, Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz alike.

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He is not at all combative.

Since its formation, SFCC has quickly morphed into something even more political. Earlier this quarter, under the guidance of Rep. Elizabeth Scott, SFCC crafted House Bill 2867: “Authorizing conceal carry on campuses of institutions of higher education.”

HB 2867 wasn’t referred to committee, making it pretty much dead upon arrival, but SFCC plans to edit and evolve the bill, then submit it again during the next legislative session.

The bill would legalize concealed carry on the UW campus. Currently, firearms are completely banned from campus, despite both open carry and concealed carry being legal in most places in Washington state. Jails, schools,  bars, or parts of airports are the exceptions, areas where guns are unauthorized. To legally, openly carry a weapon one does not need a permit, but to carry a concealed weapon, a concealed pistol license is required.

The bill, if passed, would mean academic institutions could not make any rule that barred license holders from carrying a firearm. It would, however, allow “provisions concerning the storage of pistols in dormitories,” and would not necessarily apply to private institutions.

A similar bill recently passed in Texas, Senate Bill 11, which beginning Aug. 1, 2016, will legalize concealed carry of firearms on campus at the University of Texas at Austin. It was, and still is, highly contentious on the UT campus.

Many Texas students continue to avidly oppose the bill.

According to the Facebook event, “Campus (DILDO) Carry,” 10,000 people will be attending a “Cocks, not Glocks,” protest taking place on the UT campus the first day of school, Aug. 24. Students and others opposed to SB 11 plan to strap massive dildos to their backpacks, with the idea that dildos are “about as effective at protecting us from sociopathic shooters, but much safer for recreational play.”

Late last month, the dean of UT’s School of Architecture resigned due to concern with the new policy.

In 2015, there were 23 shootings on college campuses across the country. The likelihood of a shooting occurring on your campus is still incredibly slim, but this uptick in campus violence has brought gunrights, accessibility to guns, and gun laws in general into the center of debates.

According to the Pew Research Center, most Americans are in favor of requiring background checks for gun shows and private sales of firearms, as well as implementing laws preventing someone with a mental illness from purchasing a gun. But when it comes to developing a federal database to track gun sales and actually banning assault-style weapons, it becomes a partisan issue.

In 2014, Pew reported that 32 percent of Americans owned a firearm for hunting, but 48 percent, the majority, owned a gun for protection. This is a 22 percent increase from 1999 when only 26 percent owned a weapon for that reason.

Wallesen says the campus carry bill isn’t motivated by fear. He isn’t scared of a shooting occurring on campus, but he knows it is an imminent threat that, as of now, he can’t do anything about.

He thinks students have a false sense of security.

“Prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” he said. “That’s the way I think everyone should act. … Why do you stock up on food? Why do you wear a seatbelt? I prepare for someone to attack me and I hope that no one does.”

Wallesen credits SFCC member and UW graduate student Allen Acosta with making this bill a reality.

“We push the boundaries of our liberties,” Acosta said. “It’s healthy to understand what rights we have and what rights the government has. That’s why I love this group, because they are willing to do that.”

Acosta has been networking with gun rights groups to garner support for the bill. He and Wallesen are optimistic for the bill’s future.

“We’re doing something, which is more than I thought I’d be doing when I started this club,” Wallesen said. “Allen came to the last meeting of the year and now here we are with a bill. … beyond what I thought would be possible.”

When Wallesen started the club, he intended for it to connect him with others who, like him, see guns and frequent trips to the gun-range as a hobby, not just a political issue.

“Anyone who collects anything, you are always looking for something new to add to your collection,” he said, referencing his growing collection of firearms.

Wallesen brought all six of his guns on SFCC’s quarterly trip to the West Coast Armory in Bellevue on Feb. 3, during which they exchange guns, get a little target practice in, and eat Chick-fil-A.

“Outside of the politics of it, it’s a lot of fun,” he said.

He emphasized that not everyone who attends SFCC’s trips to the gun range is a Republican.

Still, SFCC is inherently political and the members know it. They are almost entirely Republicans and many are actively involved with College Republicans, another UW student organization.

The students in SFCC are a minority on campus because of their desire to legalize concealed carry, but they are also Republicans in an area dominated by left-leaners ready to “Feel the Bern.”

Being a political minority isn’t always easy. When Wallesen and other members of SFCC proudly don their “Students for Concealed Carry” T-shirts, which list the Second Amendment in its entirety on the back, reactions from passersby are not always positive or friendly.

Wallesen has learned how to deflect some of this negativity and has realized that most people don’t actually seem to want to hear him out or learn about his position.

“They don’t want to argue with me, they just want to shame me,” he said. “This club has forced me to organize my beliefs. Before, I knew my beliefs, but I didn’t know how to articulate them well.”

Wallesen is graduating in the spring and plans to move to California to pursue a career in engineering for Disney. He realizes California is equally, sometimes even more, liberal than the Pacific Northwest, but luckily he has already developed a pretty thick skin for when it comes time to discuss politics and conflicting ideologies.

Regardless of where Wallesen is, whether he is in the political majority or minority, he won’t cease to advocate for less stringent gun laws.

“The Second Amendment shouldn’t just shut off,” he said.

Reach Development Editor Kate Clark at features@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @KateClarkUW

A labor of love: Women’s Center helps area high school students apply to UW

Every chair in the UW’s Cunningham Hall Women’s Center is taken. Some of the dozens of high school seniors are sitting on the floor instead, where they are nervously editing essays and adding last minute touches to their UW undergraduate applications.

“There’s literally no room,” one high school senior said as she and a volunteer tutor tucked themselves away in a corner of the conference room, in between a stack of Domino’s pizza and another table packed with students, chair legs entangled.

The Women’s Center program, Making Connections, hosts an Application Night every year on Nov. 30, the evening before the UW’s application is due. Making Connections is geared toward getting low-income Seattle-area high school students interested in the science, technology, engineering, and math fields, as well as preparing these students for college. Most of the 105 students from over 20 high schools are the first in their families to go to college. In 2014, 92 percent of those enrolled in the program were women, and 87 percent of the graduating seniors ended up going to the UW.

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By Kate Clark

Making Connections is led by Assistant Director of the Women’s Center, Senait Habte, and STEM Enrichment Coordinator, Kelsey Johnson, but it began with Pat Dawson. In 1998, Dawson, a surgeon and member of the Women’s Center Advisory Board, realized how much trouble her daughter was having in the sciences despite all the resources at her disposal. That realization inspired her to lead the Women’s Center in applying for a grant, and Making Connections was born.

Habte, who took over Making Connections in 2006 after working in the UW’s Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity, said this all began at a time when STEM wasn’t the buzzword it is today.

“We believe in hands-on,” Habte said. “If we can’t show these students what’s possible, how can they ever start to dream?”

The program hosts other events in addition to application night, when students race to finish their essays and applications and experience the excitement of a crowd cheering for them as they click the submit button. The Parent College Information workshop educates parents — many of whom are immigrants or refugees who didn’t go to college and who aren’t familiar with the complicated and drawn-out college application process.

While the Making Connections program is able to take graduating seniors on a statewide college tour, parents are typically unable to make the same trip. Habte said events like this make up for some parents’ lack of access to information about these colleges.

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It is a way to open their eyes, Johnson added.

“One of the parents came up to me afterward and she was like, ‘Oh my god, I am so glad I came, I had no idea how much work goes into this, I was telling my child that she needs to come home, cook dinner, help me take care of my six other children, and I am not letting her come to the center to do anything on college applications. Coming to this event just completely changed my outlook on this,’” Johnson said.

After earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and working in civil engineering on the east coast, Johnson joined AmeriCorps and moved across the country to work at the Women’s Center.

“I was looking for a change in my life,” Johnson said. “At the end of the day I was just like, ‘What am I doing, how am I helping people? I don’t feel like I am making a difference.’ I want to help and I want to make a difference and I believe that females need that extra support and guidance when it comes to studying the sciences, and math, and engineering — I went through it.”

Johnson will be working at the Women’s Center until the end of July.

Habte, on the other hand, has been involved in pre-college work for years. She said it’s her life’s work and passion.

“I’ve always been a helper and thrived off of helping people, particularly students,” Habte said. “It is gratifying to see those students, shaping them, connecting them, and guiding them through that entire process and watching them evolve over time. Now we have students who are here at UW, we are getting students that are graduated that are serving on my advisory board. It is really an amazing process to see them come full circle.”

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In 2014, 84 percent of the students in Making Connections qualified for free or reduced price lunch and many of them came from high schools and communities in the area that have been consistently ridiculed over the years, according to Habte.

“Oftentimes, they feel like they are inferior because we’ve been telling them since kindergarten how awful their schools are or how awful their communities are, and they kind of start to believe that,” Habte said. “We are trying to undo that — to make them understand that they are great.”

Habte said she is always reminding her students that they have every right to be at the UW, that it is their university; she hopes to change their attitudes.

“You have opened the door and their eyes to something and there is no turning back because as long as we keep them engaged and we show them the possibility, that is the biggest thing you can give students — a sense of self and of what’s possible,” Habte said. “They are amazing students, they teach us so much, as much as I like to say we are helping students, they feed our soul. They are amazing and dynamic students and they have gone through so much, and to see how resilient they are — they are making a difference.”

Reach News Editor Kate Clark at news@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @KateClarkUW

Colonel, alumna, and author wins Distinguished Alumni Veteran Award

By Kate Clark
By Kate Clark

After serving 27 years in the U.S. Military, Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer made a brave decision: She came out.

“I had that a-ha moment, that epiphany, and I disclosed to the investigator, when I was seeking a top-secret clearance, that I was a lesbian,” said Cammermeyer, UW alumna and author of the memoir, “Serving in Silence.” “I was absolutely devastated when I was discharged for my honest statement. Like many of you, I had always believed that the military took care of its own.”

But Cammermeyer’s story doesn’t end there. She fought her discharge in the U.S. federal court, which eventually ruled in her favor, stating she was denied equal opportunity under the Fifth Amendment.

“Even in the face of injustice, she kept fighting for her right to serve,” UW Tacoma Chancellor Mark Pagano said just before presenting Cammermeyer with the Distinguished Alumni Veteran Award at the Veteran’s Day ceremony on Wednesday morning. “Her story inspires the next generation to work for a world of good.”

Cammermeyer attended the UW for her master’s and her doctorate, graduating in 1976 and again in 1991 from the School of Nursing. She entered the Army as a nurse in 1963 after graduating from the University of Maryland, and in 1967 began serving at the 24th Evacuation Hospital in Long Binh, Vietnam. In 1968, she became pregnant with her first of four sons and was asked to leave the military.

“Women were not allowed to have dependants under the age of 16, and none of us knew how to give birth to a 16-year-old,” Cammermeyer said.

Four years later, the policy changed and she returned to the military. In 1988 she became the Chief Nurse of the Washington State National Guard. It was in 1989 that she made the decision to come out.

“The military made me a warrior for social justice, and allowed me to live my truth,” Cammermeyer said.

Since retiring from the military with full privileges in 1997, she has continued to fight for various causes, including gay, lesbian, and transgender rights. She hosted an Internet talk show, opened an adult family home, and even ran for Congress. She also fought, alongside many others, for Congress to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

“When you experience injustice, whether in the military or in civilian life, take the opportunity, be willing to take a chance, and stand up to change the status quo, so there really will be liberty and justice for all,” Cammermeyer said.

Before Cammermeyer addressed the crowd gathered alongside veterans, families, and the UW’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corp cadre at the flagpole adjacent to Red Square, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., shared her thoughts on veteran care in the United States.

She emphasized the importance of high-quality health care to help address “the invisible wounds of war,” job-training programs, transitional services, and educational opportunities.

“These aren’t going above and beyond,” Murray said. “That is the bare minimum of what our country should be doing.”

She praised the UW’s care for veterans across its three campuses. With over 1,800 students on Seattle, Tacoma, and Bothell campuses who have served in the armed forces, the UW has over 30 programs that assist veterans.

UW Bothell Chancellor Wolf Yeigh mentioned a few of these programs. The College of Arts and Sciences has an integrated social sciences bachelor’s degree completion program that has attracted military spouses, veterans, and some active duty members. The UW School of Nursing is contributing to pain management research at Madigan Army Medical Center on Joint Base Lewis-McChord. And the UW School of Public Health has contributed to research of depression in seniors, helping elderly veterans in King County.

“Our words of gratitude alone are not enough to honor our veterans,” Yeigh said. “As a university we are committed to doing all we can to support those who have bravely served our country.”

The UW Seattle’s new Office of Student Veteran Life, which Yeigh also applauded, will open in December. It will provide access to counselors, mentors, and career help.

A veterans social at UW Tacoma on Thursday will mark the end of Veterans Appreciation Week at the UW.

Reach News Editor Kate Clark at news@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @KateClarkUW

Tent City Collective shows locations for UW-hosted Tent City 3

If you read the mission statements of any given school or department at the UW, you’ll find several similar phrases and keywords. Public service, health,

leadership, innovation, and support will appear throughout.

Nancy Amidei, senior lecturer in the School of Social Work, pointed out just how precisely these statements align with the decision to invite Tent City 3 (TC3), the longest established homeless encampment in King County, to the UW campus.

“If anyone tells you it wouldn’t be consistent to what the UW is all about, challenge them to look up the mission statement to whatever school they’re enrolled in,” Amidei said.

Amidei and a group of students known as the Tent City Collective want to bring TC3 to the UW campus. Although this is not a new idea, and students have been lobbying for years to host the encampment, Monday night was the first time a tour of proposed locations was given.

Red Square, archery field, Rainier Vista, the law building lawn, and the field in front of the HUB are the collective’s five suggestions. These locations were chosen based on their accessibility to public services, water, and power.

Some have indeed argued the UW campus is not a fit location for a homeless encampment. Former UW president Mark Emmert said back in 2009 hosting TC3 would “complicate the business of

the university.”

Interim President Ana Mari Cauce has not commented publicly on the proposal.

TC3 relocates every 90 days and is structured like a small city with specific rules and regulations to promote safety and security. TC3 has been hosted by both Seattle University, who in 2005 became the first university to host a homeless encampment, and Seattle Pacific University, whose president has declared his commitment toward integrating homelessness into SPU’s curriculum and continuing to host TC3. SPU most recently hosted TC3 during winter quarter 2015.

Karen Snedker, associate professor of sociology at SPU, who was largely involved in bringing TC3 to her campus, spoke to attendees of the walking tour. She emphasized while it was students who demanded SPU host TC3, it was also students who were uncomfortable with

it initially.

So she hosted eight educational forums and taught the course, Homelessness in America, prior to TC3’s arrival.

“People were really ready to be neighbors,” Snedker said.

When TC3 completed their 90-day stay Snedker conducted a survey in which 90 percent of student respondents said SPU should host TC3 again.

Rine Hart, a resident of TC3 since 2011, said he, like other residents, keeps his promises and follows the code of conduct assigned.

When Hart first moved here in 2011, he stayed at the United Gospel Mission, a homeless shelter in the Seattle area. He said he’ll never go back.

“They only recognize you as a number,” Hart said. “At tent city you have a name.”

Another TC3 resident, Steve Tierney, who has lived in TC3 less than a week, echoed similar feelings of admiration toward the encampment.

“On the streets you can’t trust anyone,” Tierney said. “Everyone expects something from you. Tent city doesn’t do that. I finally have structure there, somewhere I can actually go at the end of the day.”

A petition on change.org has been circulating the web calling for the UW to host Tent City 3. It had 147 supporters as of Monday evening, not including the several hand-written signatures organizers received during the tour.

Other student groups have advocated to host TC3 in the past, such as the ASUW student senate, the faculty senate, and the graduate and professional student senate, who each passed resolutions in favor of hosting.

Nitasha Sharma, a UW student and Tent City Collective organizer, said they will continue giving educational interviews to teach the community about Tent City 3. Soon, they will begin reaching out to administration.

“This issue is an epidemic in Seattle and we need to address it,” Sharma said.

Reach News Editor Kate Clark at news@dailyuw.comTwitter: @KateClarkUW