In spring 2012 the MCLA student board of trustees voted 10-1 to arm campus security. This was very controversial because more than 87 percent of faculty, 93 percent of department chairs and a vast majority of the student body opposed the motion. Our recent Beacon survey has brought the much-disputed, heated conversation back to the surface.
The Beacon’s then-Managing Editor, Nick Arena, reported on the change in policy in 2012, which was due largely to recent incidents of gun violence on college campuses such as the infamous Virginia Tech massacre of 2007. At the time, Joseph Charon, who was Director of Public Safety in 2013, remarked that the issue of arming public safety officers was “one of those recommendations that required careful consideration around implementing it,” and “as a community we take on the tough issues and we think through them respectfully and critically and try to make the best decision we can with the overall interest of the campus community.”
It seems clear in retrospect, that this was not the case, and it was more an issue of liability than any amount of concern of respect for the campus community. Especially now, with the new surveys bringing light to a conclusion that should be aggressively discussed on campus right now—the fact that we do not need lethal arms on our campus.
We, the editorial body of the campus paper, have varying personal and political opinions about gun control and policy in the country, but acknowledge that it is a separate dialogue than whether or not campus safety needs lethal weapons.
It’s difficult to argue for the “safety” of having guns around on campus, when students aren’t even allowed to carry nonlethal weapons to defend themselves.
The Beacon’s Copy-Chief, Lauren Levite, wrote an article in the Dec. 10 2015 issue of The Beacon where she called for allocation of non-lethal weapons on campus, citing sexual assault statistics as a valid concern—”The New York Times” reported that one in four women will be sexually assaulted on campus.
A college weapons policy that prohibits students from protecting themselves with non-lethal weapons, while unnecessarily arming its police form with lethal ones cannot straight-facedly pretend it has the interest of its students in mind.
Arguments can be made that most college campus safety officers are armed. In fact, as of 2007, according to Campus Safety Magazine, more than 90 percent of colleges in the United States had armed police officers.
That’s a red herring though. It doesn’t matter what other colleges are doing in this regard—because if the college body—the students, the faculty AND the chairs all feel passionately opposed to something, it doesn’t matter what other colleges feel, the board of trustees should adhere to the demands of the campus they are representing. Or—in Jeffersonian terms: cooperation or resignation.