OUR VIEW: Shooting sports controversy from the Simpson side


Simpson College is no stranger to local and state media coverage, whether it’s presidential candidate visits or academic program successes.

One thing the college can’t be too in favor of is repeated coverage of a hot topic issue in the state’s most prominent newspaper, The Des Moines Register.

Over the past week, two articles have run, written by former Simpsonian editor-in-chief and 2013 graduate Grant Rodgers, regarding the controversy of a head coach hire for the shooting sports club.

The first was a detailed report of the issues surrounding this new hire, from a $10,000 grant courtesy of the National Shooting Sports Foundation in 2012 to concerns about storage of firearms on campus.

These issues led to alumni petitioning the administration and trustees to reconsider the hire and give more thought to the safety of campus. One suggestion was a weapons-free Simpson environment on campus.

One of the main concerns is that of Simpson’s budgetary decisions in the last few years.

Taylor Van De Krol, a 2013 graduate, told KCCI’s Ryan Smith this week, “It’s concerning because they don’t have the money for career services, but they have the money to provide a full-time coach in the shooting club.”

Van De Krol’s sentiment is the one we need to focus on. While the issue of guns on campus is important to many people, the issue of responsible spending is one that highly resonates with the Simpson community.

After seeing layoffs of staff members, reductions and reorganization of various campus offices, it comes as a surprise to see the college investing in a new hire at this time.

While the decision has been touted as a recruiting tool, how much can a shooting sports club really contribute to the campus? Rodgers’ article highlighted “an attractive recruiting pool of more than 3,000 Iowa high school students participated in shotgun shooting competitions” as a possible strategy.

The real question is whether recruitment for one team, no matter the pool of candidates, is enough to justify spending the money for a new hire when programs and staff have already been cut and reduced to this extent.

While the issue has garnered concerns from alumni, current students have shown less interest in the matter. 

Checking the names on both petitions, no more than a handful of current students had signed by the time this edition went to print.

It’s unclear whether this is the case because students approve of the decision or because of a general apathy toward involvement in campus issues. But as we have highlighted in recent weeks, civic disengagement is par for the course among current Simpson students lately.