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UCLA announces plans for task force and gun violence research center

Chancellor Gene Block and undergraduate government student leaders held a press conference Friday about plans for a campus-wide task force and gun violence research center. (April Hoang/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By April Hoang

June 12, 2016 5:08 p.m.

Student leaders and faculty members announced their plans Friday to establish a new task force and gun violence research center in response to the June 1 murder-suicide.

Chancellor Gene Block, undergraduate student government members, and state and local officials spoke at a press conference in Meyerhoff Park Friday to inform the community about their plans. Undergraduate Students Association Council President Danny Siegel said community leaders aim to prevent further gun violence by understanding the causes of campus violence.

“After the vigil (for professor William Klug on June 2) we were thinking of how to best address the issue of campus violence,” Siegel said. “The purpose of today was to galvanize the community into action.”

Internal Vice President Sabrina Ziegler, former USAC External Vice President State Relations Director Tanner Kelly, External Vice President Rafi Sands and Siegel will lead the effort to increase safety education and investigate campus violence, Siegel said.

Student leaders will work with Block and other campus officials to organize the task force, which will assess campus safety issues, Siegel added.

The group will investigate and assess campus safety issues, such as the need for classroom locks and emergency preparation education for students and faculty, Block said at the conference.

The task force will also investigate university and police responses to the June 1 murder-suicide and use the information to improve campus security, Ziegler said at the conference. In addition, the group plans to improve the Bruin Alert system.

Students, faculty and staff will comprise the task force, said UCLA spokesperson Tod Tamberg. He added the members have not yet been selected.

Student leaders are also working with campus officials to establish a research center that would study firearm-related violence and mental health issues, Sands said at the conference. He added it would use resources from the School of Public Health and the UCLA Department of Psychology.

The new center’s findings would help advise the state in creating policies and programs against gun violence, said California state assembly member Jose Medina at the conference.

Two proposals to establish a firearm research center at the University of California are being evaluated by state officials, Kelly said. The proposals would give UCLA an opportunity to receive funding for a center on campus.

A California budget committee proposal, finalized as part of the 2015-2016 budget revision Thursday, would allocate five million dollars to a UC firearm research center if passed by the state Senate and assembly floor, said Santa Monica assembly member and budget conference committee member Richard Bloom at the conference.

A second proposal, Senate Bill 1006, would provide funding for a UC firearm research center if passed, Medina said.

The second proposal has passed the state Senate and is making its way to the assembly floor, Kelly said. It will be heard on June 14 by the California State Assembly Committee on Higher Education.

The student leaders are working with campus and state officials to ensure the budget proposal passes and that the language of the senate bill would consider UCLA as a location for the center.

“(The task force and research center are) not just for UCLA, but for all students, for all faculty, for everyone,” Ziegler said. “To learn nothing from what happened (on June 1) would be an affront to Professor Klug’s memory. We must do better.”

Email Hoang at [email protected] or tweet at @aprilthoang.

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April Hoang | Campus Politics editor
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