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Chancellor Cantor, education leaders sign letter to Obama, pledging to lead gun violence discussions

Syracuse University Chancellor Nancy Cantor recently joined with other education leaders to sign an open letter to President Barack Obama pledging to lead campus discussion on gun violence.

“The chancellor, and those who sign the letter, are asking for the president and the leaders in Washington to really pay attention and try to address a comprehensive solution to gun violence,” said Kevin Quinn, senior vice president for public affairs at SU.

Cantor signed the letter pledging to lead campus discussions on gun violence, which was drafted by Lee Pelton, president of Emerson College, immediately after receiving and reviewing it on Dec. 21, Quinn said.

She is among more than 250 college presidents to sign the letter to date, according to the website.

Cantor is also working with the American Council on Education to develop a policy position to be submitted to Vice President Joe Biden, Quinn said. Biden, an SU alumnus, leads the White House gun violence task force.

Cantor is working on the initiative with Molly Corbett Broad, president of ACE and an SU alumna, and several other higher education organizations. Quinn said it will be submitted soon, as Obama called for proposals from Biden’s task force by the end of January.

While the letter Cantor signed just calls for a discussion about the issue, Quinn said, the policy position will take a more specific stance on issues related to guns and higher education.

The letter offers the support of the academic communities in forming “a long overdue national conversation about mass killings and gun violence,” according to the text.

The letter calls for higher education institutions to use their resources and leadership to call attention to the accessibility of assault weapons and mental health issues that may have contributed to recent mass killings, such as the recent shooting in Newton, Conn.

“After the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School where young children and adults were gunned down in a blink of an eye by rapid fire weapons of human destruction, we believe that it would be nearly impossible for anyone with heads that think and hearts that feel to conclude that the status quo is acceptable,” Pelton wrote in the letter.

Cantor has already spoken with some SU faculty members who have expressed an interest in facilitating conversations this semester, Quinn said. As students and faculty return to campus, more plans will be made to foster additional conversations on the issue of gun violence.

“Our nation looks to colleges and universities to solve its most pressing problems,” Pelton wrote in the letter, “and these are issues on which we stand ready to provide a way forward.”

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