National organization committed to ending gun violence starts new chapter at UCCS

After the double homicides on Feb. 16, the ongoing discourse on gun reform within the CU system has gained even more traction and led to a new organization being formed on campus.

Social work students Courtney Moore and Hayley Crist are co-leading a new club under a new chapter for Students Demand Action (SDA), a national organization that helps high schools and colleges learn about local legislation concerning firearms and how to go about creating change.

The UCCS SDA chapter will focus on understanding and changing gun policy and how to prevent gun violence.

Although the two students planned to take action before the events of Feb. 16, what happened that day pushed Moore and Crist into taking their first steps toward advocacy sooner than expected.

“After all the tragedies that happened on campus, what I was feeling the most was anger; anger with the policies that were in place that could allow this to happen, anger with a lack of support systems to prevent this from happening and harm reduction effort,” Crist said.

Moore and Crist were both looking for a healthy way to channel this anger for themselves and their peers, which led them to start the chapter.

The chapter plans to examine UCCS’ policies and advocate for changes once they better understand them. The first policy they want changed is the housing contract; it allows students who live in Alpine Village to concealed carry and store a handgun in a locker if they have a valid permit and written permission from their roommates. They are also examining policies and state laws surrounding concealed carry on campus. State law allows Colorado residents to concealed carry a handgun with a valid permit, and the right to concealed carry in all CU schools is recognized by the Board of Regents under Policy 14.I.

“I feel like we need to make our voices known not only to the rest of the [CU] community but also to our admins here on campus,” Moore said.

The SDA chapter will be at the state capitol on March 13 to advocate for SB 24-131, which will prohibit guns from being brought into “sensitive spaces” such as university campuses. Students interested in testifying can sign up to speak either in person or online.

If SB 24-131 doesn’t pass, SDA plans to contact the Board of Regents and attend their public meetings to advocate for policy changes to the CU system.

“[The Board of Regents] are the ones that put in the deciding factors, and we just have to follow them,” Crist said.

Timeline Graphic by Zee O’Donnell.

Moore and Crist hope the SDA chapter at UCCS will be a channel for those wanting to change CU policy.

“I don’t think a lot of students knew about the gun policies [before Feb. 16], and I think now they’re more aware and want to do something about it,” Crist said.

The chapter is partnered with faculty from the social work, sociology and the visual and performing arts departments. They will be holding meetings in UC 122 every Monday from 3-4 p.m. Registration for the club is available on MLC.

Photo via Students Demand Action.