Water guns raffled on Quad

Anne Marie Santos, sophomore in ACES, buys a raffle ticket from Jasmine Davis, junior in LAS, and Bobby Jackson, freshman in LAS, on the Quad Thursday. The student branch of Democracy for America sold raffle tickets for a water gun Thursday. In reference Ben Cleary

By Allison Sues

Generation Democracy for America raffled off water guns on the Quad on Thursday in response to the handgun raffle The Orange and Blue Observer held three weeks ago.

The organization sold hundreds of raffle tickets for a Super Soaker water gun and several smaller water guns as a charity fundraiser. All profits will benefit the Women’s Fund shelter and the Greater Community AIDS Project.

The water gun raffle was co-sponsored by several other liberal student groups on campus: Student Peace-Action, the Feminist Majority, the National Organization for Women, Promoting Awareness Victim Empowerment and PRIDE.

The raffle raised more than $100 dollars.

Josh Rohrscheib, graduate student, won the Super Soaker.

“We’re using humor and poking fun (at the Observer’s gun raffle) to draw attention and raise important issues,” said Ryan Maness, senior in LAS and the creator the event.

As a component of the Observer’s Conservative Coming Out Day, members of the Observer planned to raffle off two small, concealable handguns called derringers. The guns were only eligible to gays and women. In an e-mail planning the event, Leo Buchignani, senior in Communications and the Observer’s editor in chief, wrote that the guns would be raffled off to “anything that carries a purse.”

This comment, as well as other incidents, has increased animosity between the liberal and conservative groups on campus.

Paired with the raffle, Generation Democracy for America had several guests speak on the challenges they have faced as women and as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender persons.

“We just want to show the problems that women and gays actually face,” said Francisco Melli-Huber, junior in Engineering, founder and treasurer of the University’s chapter of Generation Democracy for America. “Giving guns to these people won’t help. We want to inform people on ways you can actually help them.”

The derringer raffle, which was stopped by the University administration, would have given guns to two groups of people likely to suffer rape on campus, Buchignani said.

“The Orange and Blue Observer is constantly creating divisions and furthering stereotypes,” Maness said. “People sometimes think it’s more important to be polite, but I think we have to stop mumbling our disagreement and start standing up and saying something.”

Speakers such as Ross Wantland, the coordinator of Campus Acquaintance Rape Education, and Curt McKay, the director of the Office of LGBT Concerns, spoke before a crowd outside the Illini Union.

Buchignani joined the spectators, sitting among them and quietly listening.

“We’re gratified that he took the time to listen to what we had to say,” Maness said.

Many people passed by and donated money without purchasing a raffle ticket because they thought it was a good cause, Maness said.

In response to the water gun raffle, Buchignani said, “It just goes to show that, when the going gets tough, all liberals can do is wet themselves.”