Student issues raised at Democrat Days

Missouri students discussed concealed carry and student curator with state legislators.

Gov. Jay Nixon and Attorney General Chris Koster joke about Koster's position on the Democrat totem, a reference to Koster's former status as a Republican. Both were speakers at the Missouri Democrat Days on Saturday in Hannibal.

HANNIBAL -- In the second day of Democrat Days, young supporters of the Democratic Party gathered to discuss various issues that will have an effect on many Missouri college students.

At a brunch Saturday morning, Gov. Jay Nixon discussed ways education could be used to help escape the economic recession.

"We believe that investing in the future is where we are going to do it," Nixon said. "Investing in education, investing in opportunity, investing in what I call human capital is the key."

Nixon said incentives such as the Caring for Missourians program, which would increase the amount of financial aid available to nursing students, are necessary to improve education in the state.

"If the only graduation gift people get is debt, it won't work for our economy," Nixon said. "We can't get people back to work if they are too behind by going to school."

Following Nixon's speech, several state senators and representatives gathered to answer the questions of young Democrats who represented several high schools and universities across the state.

Rep. Paul Quinn, D-Monroe City, said the government couldn't do it all, regarding helping college students get jobs during the economic recession.

"It just doesn't happen if you don't put the effort into it," Quinn said. "It isn't handed to you, and if you don't work hard and you don't put effort into it, you're going to get what you deserve,"

MU College Democrats President Brian Roach asked whether each legislator would vote for a bill allowing concealed carry on campus if it left committee.

The bill, proposed by Rep. Brian Munzlinger, R-Williamstown, would allow anyone with a concealed carry permit to bring a weapon onto a university campus.

Assistant Minority Floor Leader J. C. Kuessner, D-Eminence, one of several representatives who answered Roach's question, said he would vote against the bill should it leave committee.

"As a rural democrat, I am pro-gun," Kuessner said. "I approve of concealed carry, but I have concerns about conceal and carry being used on our campuses."

Roach said the answer did not surprise him. He said although many of representatives and senators on the panel were from rural, pro-gun areas, they did realize concealed weapons should not be allowed in some areas, such as universities.

"I think they are taking a very rational approach to the situation, saying they are supporters of the second amendment, but they are responsible supporters of the second amendment," Roach said.

Young Democrats of Missouri Vice President Chris Miller said he wasn't satisfied with the legislators' responses to the concealed carry question.

"I wish I would've seen some of the elected officials take a better stance on concealed carry," Miller said. "Those legislators with rural roots don't find that to be as much of a problem in the wake of certain things like Virginia Tech and it's important to realize concealed carry on college campuses is not a good idea."

Rep. Mary Still, D-Columbia, discussed the possibility of a voting student curator on the UM system Board of Curators, which has been proposed in House legislation. The Senate voted last week against an amendment proposing the same action.

Still said she supported the student curator position from her past experiences with students who served as non-voting members on the Board of Curators.

"I know the caliber of students that usually is selected and they are every bit as capable as some of the other curators even though some of them will have more experience," she said.

Democrat Days is the annual gathering of state Democratic leaders and supporters in Missouri. The event, held this year in Hannibal, began in 1971.

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