A group of students have written a letter in response to an email sent out Tuesday by Iowa State’s Students for 2A club.
The email inviting students to learn about 3D-printed firearms, sent by club President Daniel Eisenstein, appeared in students’ inboxes Tuesday afternoon — just one day after the second mass shooting in a week.
On March 16, Robert Aaron Long wreaked havoc in Atlanta, Georgia, when he killed eight people at three spas in the area. Six out of the eight victims were Asian women. Long told police he had a “sexual addiction” and had to rid himself of “temptation” by carrying out this shooting at massage parlors he had frequented in the past.
On Monday, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa entered a Boulder, Colorado, grocery store and killed 10 people, including the first police officer on the scene. Alissa was armed with a military-style semiautomatic rifle and a handgun.
Long used a 9mm handgun, according to Georgia law enforcement officials.
These shootings have sparked calls for gun reform, with President Joe Biden calling on Congress to pass a ban on assault weapons and to close background check loopholes.
The incident in Atlanta has also drawn attention to violence against the Asian American/Pacific Islander community.
The letter, written by academic senior marketing major Bret Clark, said the timing of the email was insensitive and the email should not have been sent out.
“No matter which parties were involved in sending out this mass email, it is clear that they did not understand the emotional intensity the events of the past week have taken on students, especially students of color and those who identify as Asian American Pacific Islander,” the letter stated. “It is clear that they did not understand the safety concerns and fear that have impacted those communities this past week. Communities still hurting, grieving and processing.”
The letter also referenced events from the fall semester regarding a tweet from Iowa State’s College Republicans United, calling for people to “arm up” after the 2020 election.
“Given the events that have occurred in the past year inciting violence on campus, this email makes marginalized students feel even more unsafe on this campus," according to the letter. "This is not just simply an email, but another addition to the culmination of events that continue to make students, and those who hold marginalized identities, feel unsafe on this campus.”
It continued to say the email should have been postponed and that in the future, “a trigger warning should be issued at the start of the email stating topics such as gun violence that can potentially be triggering for individuals.”
The letter also called on the university to examine the Principles of Community and Student Code of Conduct, saying they believe the organization violated sections 5.2, 5.7, 5.9, 5.10, 5.13, 5.20, 5.21 and 5.28 of the Code of Conduct.
“If no policies are found to be violated, the policies should be reviewed so no further harm is caused to students, and those who choose to cause harm will be held accountable," the letter read. "The policies regarding mass emails should also be reviewed and could include guidance on providing trigger warnings for topics. … Given the events that have occurred in the past year, the university must start taking actions to make it clear their commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion as well as supporting students of color.
The letter is available to read online. The letter was sent to Iowa State’s administration at 8 p.m. Wednesday with around 100 signatures, but it is still open for signing.
Clark said she drafted the letter to make it clear the impact the mass email had on many students, specifically those who hold marginalized identities.
“As a white woman, the mass email made me terrified to be on campus, and I wanted to use my voice to call attention to the harm caused to students with marginalized identities by the mass email,” Clark said. “The email was especially untimely and insensitive given the recent gun violence and racially motivated hate crimes that have occurred against the Asian American Pacific Islander community just seven days prior.”
Clark further explained why the email was harmful.
“Those involved clearly did not understand the emotional toll these events have taken on those communities who are still grieving, hurting, processing and fearing for their safety," Clark said. "This email is just another addition to the culmination of events on campus that continue to make students, and those who hold marginalized identities, feel unsafe on our campus.”
Clark said the intention of the letter is to educate administrators about the harm that has been caused.
“Within 24 hours, the statement gained almost 100 signatures, and I encourage students to continue to sign and hold the administrators, the student organization and those involved accountable,” she said. Clark also said students can sign the letter as well as fill out a Campus Climate form.
In addition to the letter, students also took to social media to express their thoughts regarding the email that was sent out, pointing out the poor timing of the email.
“Even if you agree with the message, the timing is just so insensitive. Horrible optics,” one individual said on the Iowa State subreddit.
On the subreddit, the Students for 2A account said the message was written before the shootings. For student organizations, Iowa State’s mass email request form says requests must be submitted to the Student Activities Center 10 or more days before the promoted dates.
The email must be sent to the student body seven or more days before the promoted dates.
Eisenstein, a junior in management information systems, issued a statement regarding the situation.
“We at Students for 2A are incensed by the disgusting violence that has occurred in Atlanta and Boulder," Eisenstein said. "Our organization focuses on education regarding legal and safe firearm ownership and operation. If we consider delaying or canceling our presentations, we would fail to meet the goals of our organization, including our ability to have open and honest discussions with those who vehemently disagree with us.”
According to the student organizations database, the Students for 2A meeting takes place at 7 p.m. every other Monday at Carver Hall. The event promoted in the email will take place at 7 p.m. Monday in Carver 305.
“We are an apolitical organization, and we invite people who do not agree with us," Eisenstein said. "We all want the same thing, that being the promotion of the safety of the individual and, by extension, the community at large. 3D-printed firearms are legal in most states, and we are trying to educate on the safe and legal use thereof.”
Angie Hunt, strategic relations and communications for Iowa State, issued a statement on behalf of the university.
“The student organization hosting the meeting completed all required authorizations for the event and went through the proper channels to send an email to the student body promoting the event,” the statement said. “It should be noted that this event is not a demonstration of 3D printing or weapons. While not everyone may support the topic, all students have the right to gather and discuss issues that others may feel are controversial or do not align with their values.”
The statement also recognized the mass shootings of the past week.
“We understand our students’ concerns, and as a campus community, we mourn with those who have lost loved ones in the recent violent mass shooting tragedies in Boulder and Atlanta,” it finished.
During Wednesday’s Student Government meeting, a moment of silence was held for the victims of the shootings.