EXCLUSIVE: Ithaca College President Calls for More Gun Control on Behalf of Entire School

EXCLUSIVE: Ithaca College President Calls for More Gun Control on Behalf of Entire School

In the wake of the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, discussion on how to prevent this incomprehensible tragedy from ever happening again has taken over the majority of airtime on national media outlets. 

It seems that everyone has an opinion, including Tom Rochon, President of Ithaca College in New York. Rochon stated yesterday in a campus-wide email that he is signing a letter, along with other university presidents, to President Obama, urging for stricter gun control measures. 

President Rochon continued his email by clarifying that he typically does not believe in using his platform to promote his personal political agenda–except, that is, in this case where he is clearly willing to make an exception.

President Rochon is the voice of Ithaca College; he speaks for the community and is an advocate on behalf of the university. Using his prominent position to promote his opinion that firmer gun control laws will help to prevent mass killings and gun violence is unacceptable. 

It is an opinion that is neither universally accepted nor proven true; the gun-control policies that banned weapons from Virginia Tech’s campus certainly didn’t do anything to protect the 32 people who were shot to death in 2007 by Seung-Hui Cho, or the 17 others he wounded.

In fact, the only public policy position proven to reduce gun-related deaths is concealed-carry laws. It seems unconscionable that President Rochon believes it is acceptable to comment on a policy issue on behalf of the entire Ithaca community.

The entirety of President Rochon’s email can be read below:

Dear campus community,

We have all been struck with horror at the mass killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. The painful images from the carnage and the continued suffering of survivors and family members are magnified by our own feelings of helplessness. It is especially difficult for members of the Ithaca College community who may have personal connections to this tragedy.

For that reason, I want you to know that I have lent my name, and by implication that of Ithaca College, to a letter from college and university presidents that will be sent within a few days to President Obama. The letter pledges our assistance and that of our academic communities to the president in the commitment he made last weekend to spur a national conversation about mass killings and gun violence. The letter asks for measures that will curtail access to assault weapons whose magazines hold up to 100 rounds of ammunition. The letter also calls for serious and sustained attention to the assessment of mental health and other societal issues that have contributed to gun violence in this country.

I am regularly asked to comment upon or endorse statements related to public or political issues. I have always declined to do so in previous instances because I am aware that Ithaca College is a diverse community and I do not believe it is my personal prerogative to invoke the name of IC in support of my own beliefs. I know that some of you may not agree with everything in this letter and others may feel it does not go far enough. (The full text of the letter will be released after it has been conveyed to the president.) I hope, however, you will all agree with the thought that we must draw the line now on the issue of gun violence. We must talk through philosophical and partisan differences and identify measures that will be effective in protecting innocent lives.

We all know that Sandy Hook could be anywhere. I hope you will join me in keeping the victims, the survivors and their loved ones in your thoughts and prayers over the holidays.


Tom Rochon

The letter to President Obama, as well as the names of all the university presidents who have signed it, can be seen here:

Lawrence M. Schall, Oglethorpe University (GA)

Elizabeth Kiss, Agnes Scott College (GA)

James Gozzo, Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (NY)

Lex McMillan, Albright College (PA)

Jeff Abernathy, Alma College (MI)

Tom Flynn, Alvernia University (PA)

Mary Meehan, Alverno College (WI)

Jerry D. Durham, Allen College (IA)

James Edwards, Anderson University (IN)

David Seyle, Andrew College (GA)

Jack P. Calareso, Anna Maria College (MA)

Francesco Cesareo, Assumption College (MA)

Steven Bahls, Augustana College (IL)

Rebecca Sherrick, Aurora University (IL)

Marjorie Hass, Austin College (TX)

Ron Slepitza, Avila University (MO)

Leonard Schlesinger, Babson College (MA)

JoAnn Gora, Ball State University (IN)

Debora Spar, Barnard College (NY)

Clayton Spencer, Bates College (ME)

Mary Hawkins, Bellevue University (NE)

Elizabeth Coleman, Bennington College (VT)

Scott D. Miller, Bethany College (WV)

Charles Krulak, Birmingham Southern College (AL)

Miriam Pride, Blackburn College (IL)

Richard A. Levao, Bloomfield College (NJ)

Barry Mills, Bowdoin College (ME)

Ed Schrader, Brenau University (GA)

Larry Hostetter, Brescia University (KY)

Kristin King, Bryn Athyn College (PA)

John Bravman, Bucknell University (PA)

Christine Plunkett, Burlington College (VT)

Roger H. Brown, Berklee College of Music (MA)

Nancy H. Blattner, Caldwell College (NJ)

Stephen Beal, California College of the Arts (CA)

Steven Lavine, California Institute of the Arts (CA)

Daniel Lowery, Calumet College of St. Joseph (IN)

Deborah C. Jackson, Cambridge College (MA)

James P. Loftus, Cardinal Stritch University (WI)

Mary Hines, Carlow University (PA)

J. Randall O’Brien, Carson-Newman College (TN)

Gregory Woodward, Carthage College (WI)

David Rowe, Centenary College of Louisiana (LA)

John Roush, Centre College (KY)

Esther L. Barazzone, Chatham University (PA)

Michele Nealon-Woods, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology (CA)

John Smarrelli Jr., Christian Brothers University (TN)

Pamela Brooks Gann, Claremont McKenna College (CA)

Robert Walton, Claremont University Consortium (CA)

Carlton E. Brown, Clark Atlanta University  (GA)

Larry Galizio, Clatsop Community College (OR)

James Phifer, Coe College (IA)

Robert Wyatt, Coker College (SC)

William D. Adams, Colby College (ME)

Darron Collins, College of the Atlantic (ME)

MaryAnn Baenninger, College of Saint Benedict (MN)

Francis Raftery, College of Saint Elizabeth (NJ)

Maryanne Stevens, College of Saint Mary (NE)

Bradley M. Gottfried, College of Southern Maryland (MD)

Jill Tiefenthaler, Colorado College (CO)

Steve Hayner, Columbia Theological Seminary (GA)

Dennison W. Griffith, Columbus College of Art & Design (OH)

Viji George, Concordia College New York (NY)

Charles Schlimpert, Concordia University (OR)

John Johnson, Concordia University Chicago (IL)

Leo I. Higdon, Jr., Connecticut College (CT)

Jonathan Brand, Cornell College (IA)

Richard Valentine, Culver-Stockton College (MO)

Michael Mihalyo, Davis & Elkins College (WV)

Paula Rooney, Dean College (MA)

Dale T. Knobel, Denison University (OH)

Brian Casey, DePauw University (IN)

William G. Durden, Dickinson College (PA)

Walter M. Kimbrough, Dillard University (LA)

Timothy Lenchak, Divine Word College (IA)

David Maxwell, Drake University (IA)

Vivian A. Bull, Drew University (NJ)

David Dawson, Earlham College (IN)

Charles J. Dougherty, Duquesne University (PA)

Loren Swartzendruber, Eastern Mennonite University (VA)

Donald Eastman, Eckerd College (FL)

Alan Ray, Elmhurst College (IL)

Lee Pelton, Emerson College (MA)

Rosalind Reichard, Emory & Henry College (VA)

J. David Arnold, Eureka College (IL)

John Ebersole, Excelsior College (NY)

Sheldon Drucker, Fairleigh Dickinson University (NJ)

Jennifer L. Braaten, Ferrum College (VA)

Richard Meyers, Fielding Graduate University (CA)

William T Abare, Flagler College  (FL)

Joseph McShane, Fordham University (NY)

Keith Taylor, Gannon University  (PA)

T. Alan Hurwitz, Gallaudet University (DC)

Janet Morgan Riggs, Gettysburg College (PA)

Barbara Vacarr, Goddard College (VT)

Mark Scheinberg, Goodwin College (CT)

James Brenneman, Goshen College (IN)

Sanford J. Ungar, Goucher College (MD)

John Sellars, Graceland University (IA)

Paul J. Fonteyn, Green Mountain College (VT)

Kathleen Owens, Gwynedd-Mercy College (PA)

Joan Hinde Stewart, Hamilton College (NY)

Sue DeWine, Hanover College (IN)

Dennis Golladay, Harford Community College (MD)

Margaret Drugovich, Hartwick College (NY)

Joanne V. Creighton, Haverford College (PA)

Mark D. Gearan, Hobart and William Smith Colleges (NY)

Nancy Oliver Gray, Hollins University (VA)

J. Cameron West, Huntingdon College (AL)

Robert Clark, Husson University (ME)

Axel Steuer, Illinois College (IL)

Jerry Corcoran, Illinois Valley Community College (IL)

John L. Anderson, Illinois Institute of Technology, (IL)

Richard F. Wilson, Illinois Wesleyan University (IL)

Eileen Wilson-Oyelaran, Kalamazoo College (MI)

Jacqueline Chanda, Kansas City Art Institute (MO)

S. Georgia Nugent, Kenyon College (OH)

Charles Scriven, Kettering College (OH)

Jorge Díaz-Herrera, Keuka College (NY)

John Ryan, King’s College (PA)

Teresa L. Amott, Knox College (IL)

Candace Introcaso, La Roche College  (PA)

Daniel H. Weiss, Lafayette College (PA)

Jonathan Burke, Laguna College of Art and Design (CA)

Michael T. Victor, Lake Erie College  (OH)

Stephen D. Schutt, Lake Forest College (IL)

Jill Beck, Lawrence University (WI)

Joseph Moore, Lesley University (MA)

Walt Griffin, Limestone College (SC)

David Steinberg, Long Island University (NY)

Jim Collins, Loras College (IA)

Mark LaBranche, Louisburg College (NC)

David Burcham, Loyola Marymount University (CA)

Brian F. Linnane, Loyola University Maryland  (MD)

Richard L. Torgerson, Luther College (IA)

Brian Rosenberg, Macalester College (MN)

Donald Tuski, Maine College of Art (ME)

Jo Young Switzer, Manchester University (IN)

Brennan O’Donnell, Manhattan College (NY)

Jon C. Strauss, Manhattanville College (NY)

Fred Lazarus, Maryland Institute College of Art (MD)

Joseph W. Bruno, Marietta College (OH)

Judson R. Shaver, Marymount Manhattan College (NY)

Dawn Oxenaar Barrett, Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MA)

James M. Dennis, McKendree University (IL)

Richard Jurasek, Medaille College (NY)

Tom Gamble, Mercyhurst University  (PA)

Jo Allen, Meredith College (NC)

Janis Bellack, MGH Institute of Health Professions (MA)

Ronald D. Liebowitz, Middlebury College (VT)

Alecia A. DeCoudreaux, Mills College (CA)

Rob Pearigen, Millsaps College (MS)

Neil Hoffman, Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (WI)

Jay Coogan, Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MN)

Michael Macdowell, Misericordia University (PA)

Mary Ellen Jukoski, Mitchell College (CT)

Stephen D. Immerman, Montserrat College of Art (MA)

Cecilia Fitzgibbon, Moore College of Art and Design (PA)

Robert Franklin, Morehouse College (GA)

David Wilson, Morgan State University (MD)

John Reynders, Morningside College (IA)

Lynn Pasquerella, Mount Holyoke College (MA)

Joseph N. Benoit, Mount Marty College  (SD)

Christopher Blake, Mount Mercy University (IA)

Ann McElaney-Johnson, Mount St. Mary’s College (CA)

Peyton Helm, Muhlenberg College (PA)

David Schleich, National College of Natural Medicine (OR)

Frederik Ohles, Nebraska Wesleyan University  (NE)

Noreen M. Carrocci, Newman University (KS)

Michael A. Miller, Northland College (WI)

Andrew P. Roth, Notre Dame College (OH)

Judith Maxwell Greig, Notre Dame de Namur University (CA)

James Conneely, Notre Dame of Maryland University (MD)

Jonathan Veitch, Occidental College (CA)

Samuel Hoi, Otis College of Art and Design (CA)

Kathy A. Krendl, Otterbein University (OH)

Sandra Harper, Our Lady of the Lake College (LA)

Thomas Manley, Pacific Northwest College of Art (OR)

Ezat Parnia, Pacific Oaks College & Children’s School (CA)

Riess Potterveld, Pacific School of Religion (CA)

Michael H. Droge, Park University (MO)

James Mellichamp, Piedmont College (GA)

Paul Hennigan, Point Park University (PA)

David Oxtoby, Pomona College (CA)

Claude C. Lilly, Presbyterian College (SC)

Kristin Woolever, Prescott College (AZ)

Robert A. Gervasi, Quincy University (IL)

Eli Rabinowitz, Rabbinical Academy Mesivta Rabbi Chaim Berlin (NY)

Thomas Isherwood, Reinhardt University (GA)

William Troutt, Rhodes College (TN)

Gregory Dell’Omo, Robert Morris University (PA)

Donald Farish, Roger Williams University (RI)

Charles R. Middleton, Roosevelt University (IL)

Jim Dlugos, Saint Joseph’s College of Maine (ME)

Carol Ann Mooney, Saint Mary’s College (IN)

Dottie King, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (IN)

Eugene J.  Cornacchia, Saint Peter’s University (NJ)

Jane Gerety, Salve Regina University (RI)

Charles Desmarais, San Francisco Art Institute (CA)

Karen Lawrence, Sarah Lawrence College (NY)

Tim Summerlin, Schreiner University (TX)

Lori Bettison-Varga, Scripps College (CA)

Daniel J. Martin, Seattle Pacific University  (WA)

John McCardell, Sewanee: The University of the South (TN)

George Arnold, Silver Lake College of the Holy Family (WI)

Philip A. Glotzbach, Skidmore College (NY)

Carol Christ, Smith College (MA)

Paul LeBlanc, Southern New Hampshire University (NH)

Paul Mittman, Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and Health Science (AZ)

W. Richard Merriman, Jr., Southwestern College (KS)

Colleen Perry Keith, Spartanburg Methodist College (SC)

Beverly Daniel Tatum, Spelman College (GA)

Richard P. Salmi, Spring Hill College (AL)

Richard B.  Flynn, Springfield College (MA)

Andrea Lee , St. Catherine University (MN)

Michael Peters, St. John’s College (NM)

William L. Fox, St. Lawrence University (NY)

Joseph Urgo, St. Mary’s College of Maryland (MD)

Martha K. Shouldis, St. Vincent’s College (CT)

Dianne Lynch, Stephens College (MO)

Kevin J. Manning, Stevenson University (MD)

Mark Cregan, Stonehill College  (MA)

Carl J. Strikwerda, Elizabethtown College (PA)

Rebecca Chopp, Swarthmore College (PA)

Jo Ellen Parker, Sweet Briar College (VA)

Susan Fuhrman, Teachers College, Columbia University (NY)

Judith Huntington, The College of New Rochelle (NY)

Grant H. Cornwell, The College of Wooster (OH)

Susan Scrimshaw, The Sage Colleges (NY)

R. Owen Williams, Transylvania University (KY)

James Jones, Trinity College (CT)

Dennis A. Ahlburg, Trinity University (TX)

Pat McGuire, Trinity Washington University (DC)

Bassam Deeb, Trocaire College (NY)

Stephen C. Ainlay, Union College (NY)

Margaret M. McMenamin, Union County College (NJ)

Roger H. Sublett, Union Institute & University (OH)

Serene Jones, Union Theological Seminary (NY)

Stephen Mulkey, Unity College (ME)

Sean Buffington, The University of the Arts (PA)

Margaret Stallmeyer, Thomas More College (KY)

Beverly Hogan, Tougaloo College (MS)

Neil Albert Salonen, University of Bridgeport (CT)

Ed Welch, University of Charleston (WV)

Thomas W. Keefe, University of Dallas (TX)

Thomas A. Kazee, University of Evansville (IN)

Walter Harrison, University of Hartford (CT)

Devorah Lieberman, University of La Verne (CA)

Jay A. Perman, University of Maryland (MD)

Richard Giese, University of Mount Union (OH)

Danielle Ripich, University of New England (ME)

Steven H. Kaplan, University of New Haven (CT)

E. William Beauchamp, University of Portland  (OR)

Ronald R. Thomas, University of Puget Sound (WA)

Pamela Trotman Reid, University of Saint Joseph (CT)

Stephen Privett, University of San Francisco (CA)

Gary A. Dill, University of the Southwest  (NM)

Bobby Fong, Ursinus College (PA)

Diana Stano, Ursuline College (OH)

Marc Mihaly, Vermont Law School (VT)

Patrick E. White, Wabash College (IN)

Nathan O. Hatch, Wake Forest University (NC)

Tori Haring-Smith, Washington & Jefferson College (PA)

Weymouth Spence, Washington Adventist University (MD)

Kenneth P. Ruscio, Washington and Lee University (VA)

Jim Richardson, Wenatchee Valley College (WA)

Ruth A. Knox, Wesleyan College (GA)

Michael Roth, Wesleyan University (CT)

Richard H. Dorman, Westminster College (PA)

Ronald A. Crutcher, Wheaton College (MA)

Jackie Jenkins-Scott, Wheelock College (MA)

George Bridges, Whitman College (WA)

Sharon Herzberger, Whittier College (CA)

David Sallee, William Jewell College (MO)

Kathleen Waldron, William Paterson University (NJ)

Barbara Mistick, Wilson College (PA)

Anthony DiGiorgio, Winthrop University (SC)

Benjamin Dunlap, Wofford College (SC)

Luís María R. Calingo, Woodbury University (CA)

Norman C. Francis, Xavier University of Louisiana (LA)

Kate Edwards is a Program Officer for Chapter Services for Young Americans for Freedom, a project of Young America’s Foundation.


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