The Slippery Rock University cabinet approved SRU’s new weapon policy in August to prohibit all students, faculty and visitors from possessing any weapon in university owned or operated buildings that are not authorized by police.
RockPride Online published an article on Oct. 5 stating that President Cheryl Norton wanted the policy online for easier access. The university cabinet approved the policy because the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) Board of Governors mandated a system-wide and consistent approach to weapons on campus.
On CollegeReform.org, Steven Strausbaugh, a Pa. field representative for the Leadership Institute, said that PASSHE disregards the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by making these policies. State schools are public property, and private property laws do not apply to this case. Strausbaugh said that students should challenge the weapon policy and connect with groups such as Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and the National Rifle Association. In fact, Students for Concealed Carry won a court case for the University of Colorado students affirming the right to bear arms and concealed carry on campus.
Strausbaugh mentioned that the Colorado State University saw a reduced violent crime rate after they allowed lawful carrying on campus by the 2002 Supreme Court ruling.
Other professors had different opinions than Strausbaugh about the policy.
Dr. David Champion, a criminology and criminal justice department professor said that by law anyone can carry a gun except in Philadelphia where a license is required according to the Uniform Firearm Act of Pa.
“They are allowed to develop a policy that can be enforced but not make it illegal,” Champion said. “If faculty or students do not follow this policy, they can get expelled.”
Violators may not be arrested for having the gun, but will be directed to remove the weapon immediately from university property.
Criminology and Criminal Justice Professor Dr. Youngyol Schanz agreed that those who are on university ground should follow the rules.
“Obviously students and staff should follow the policy,” Schanz said. “As long as they are doing so legally, it doesn’t bother me in general. Personally, I think students and staff should follow the policies.”
Both professors agreed that they don’t want their students to carry a gun in their class, and the policy should be followed.
Dr. Heather Frederick, a political science professor, also agreed that the weapon policy should be followed and does not violate the Second Amendment. However, she finds the policy was written poorly.
“Office supplies are dangerous,” Frederick said. “I think the policy is overly broad and awfully vague. I want to know if they are going to ban any office equipment. The paper cutter is in all of the offices, and it can decapitate anyone.”
The policy indicated that weapons should not be brought in academic buildings, administrative buildings, student residence buildings, dining facilities, recreational facilities, student centers or while attending a sporting, entertainment, recreational or educational event on the university’s property.
The policy’s definition of weapon includes, but is not limited to, any firearm, shotgun, rifle, knife, cutting instrument, bow, nunchaku, BB gun, paintball gun, and any other tool, instrument or implement capable of inflicting serious bodily injury. This policy doesn’t include Nerf guns like opponents use in Humans versus Zombies. They are bright orange and have foam pistols that do not inflict serious bodily injury.
The exceptions to the definition are police officers who carry the proper identification or U.S. military personnel in the performance of their duties. Also, current SRU employees and contractors may utilize tools or other field/office instruments to perform their duties.
“I think we need a weapon policy, but need one that makes sense,” Frederick said. “I don’t want students to have guns. I am pro Second Amendment. I just personally don’t like guns and don’t want them in classrooms because accidents happen.”
20-year-old Senior Public Health Major Danika Grom, who is in the military and carries a licensed pistol, thinks the policy is a double-standard since the university can ban guns, but the laws says that people can carry them.
“However, I don’t really think you need a weapon for the classroom and sporting events,” Grom said. “There are cameras around the buildings so people can see if something bad happens. However, I have no problem with pocket knives. I know a lot of people who carry them.”