Opinion: Three bills in Legislature endanger Georgia’s colleges and universities

An Atlanta lawmaker says our great campuses like Georgia Tech are not being served well by three pending bills in the General Assembly. (Photo: Georgia Tech.)

UPDATE: The Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously late Thursday to table HB 51, the campus rape bill referenced in this essay.

In this column, state Rep. David Dreyer, D-Atlanta, says three bills moving through the Legislature toward passage threaten our higher education system, quality and reputation and don’t help or serve students.

By David Dreyer

Georgia’s recipe for success is not a secret. Our prosperity is fueled by our infrastructure, a business-friendly climate, and a history of inclusion and civil rights.

Our colleges and universities are arguably the most important driver of economic growth in Georgia, attracting top talent from around the world, drawing leading businesses to Georgia, and fostering cutting-edge research.

As a father and state representative, preserving our world-class higher education system for all Georgia students is one of my top priorities. I want our children to choose Georgia both for college and for their careers.

Unfortunately, the General Assembly is advancing three bills that will severely damage our universities: Campus CarryHouse Bill 51, and House Bill 37.

Campus Carry would permit weapons licensees 21 and over to carry concealed firearms on college campuses. This is well beyond Second Amendment protections. Both James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, the drafter and political philosopher behind the Bill of Rights, prohibited firearms at the University of Virginia. Further, the University of Georgia was established in 1776 and has not found the need to permit students to carry firearms on campus since that time.

Every campus police department that has weighed in on Campus Carry has said that allowing firearms on campus will make our colleges and universities more dangerous and will drastically increase security costs on campuses, costs which will have to be passed onto students in the form of increased fees and tuition. Finally, Campus Carry will hamstring our ability to attract top-tier faculty and students to Georgia.

The second bill, House Bill 51, would drastically limit the tools available to colleges and universities to protect students from dangerous sexual predators on campuses and discourage victims of sexual assault from reporting an assault.

The purported justification for this radical change in how campuses address allegations of sexual assault is the misplaced belief that students accused of sexual assault do not receive sufficient due process. However, the facts show that less than 1% of all sexual assaults result in incarceration, that a disproportionate number of on-campus rapes are committed by students who know one another, and that a campus process is necessary to protect sexual assault survivors.

​The third harmful bill, House Bill 37, places more than 12,000 HOPE and Zell Miller private school scholarships in jeopardy. House Bill 37 would strip all state funding, including to students, from any campus that adopts a “sanctuary policy,” but the bill never defines what constitutes a sanctuary policy, leaving all students at risk. Even the proponents of this bill admit that no Georgia colleges or universities are violating federal immigration policy, making this bill unnecessary. Rather, our General Assembly is promoting an anti-immigrant sentiment and sending a message to top global students that they are not welcome here, which stymies our workforce development efforts.

Instead of harming our colleges, we should focus on supporting our colleges with initiatives like need-based HOPE scholarships and creative programs to reduce the cost of attendance.

At a minimum, the General Assembly should not interfere with the pursuit of excellence at our colleges and universities, and these bills must be stopped to protect our institutions of higher learning.

 

 

Reader Comments 1

9 comments
Green55
Green55

Several of our best universities compete nationally and internationally for faculty and undergraduate talent. Campus Carry would mark us as a High Noon frontier town, impeding our ability to compete.

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

"Sanctuary" is like pornography- you know it when you see it.


And most of those fools feel compelled to declare their sanctuary status- or, their intend to disregard the law- publicly.

Cutlass81
Cutlass81

Thomas Jefferson and James Madison passed that rule at a time when dueling over insults was a socially acceptable for upper class citizens, the portion of the population that would have gone to college. Secondly, it would not increase costs. That is an asinine statement. What would need to be changed to allow legally permitted ADULTS to carry on campus?

Our porous borders
Our porous borders

If you're for enforcing our borders and immigration laws ... according to the article's writer you're somehow "anti-immigrant."

Well, his side lost the November election.

Our porous borders
Our porous borders

@Starik 

But not a million new immigrants each year, as now. And not predominantly from the Third World, with zero regard for our own workforce or economy, as now.

Starik
Starik

@Our porous borders @Starik Which is exactly why we need to overhaul the immigration laws top to bottom. With an aging population we do need a lot of immigrants, maybe a million, maybe more.  We do need farm workers, restaurant workers etc. which are a good fit for intelligent but unskilled immigrants and blue college workers.

Our porous borders
Our porous borders

@Starik 

Wrong. Those millions of uneducated immigrants from the Third World are already a burden on our schools and welfare system, and will be among the first idled by the workplace automation revolution about to take place.

Starik
Starik

@Our porous borders @Starik We will always need people to do hard work like harvesting certain crops, construction work  and other work that can't be automated. If we had a rational immigration system we could bring in the people we need.

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  1. […] with students against this bill. To the 55 House members who voted “no” and the six who spoke against this bill on March 1, Georgia students are forever grateful for your service and your […]