Update: Kutztown University President comments on weapons policy, says campus no place for guns

Kutztown University revised its weapons policy to allow students and professors to carry guns if they have a permit in open areas of the campus.

In a May 9 message from KU President F. Javier Cevallos provided an update to students regarding the university weapons policy.

“Within the past year, the Pennsylvania Office of General Counsel advised the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education that a blanket prohibition against the possession of weapons on campus is legally unenforceable,” wrote Cevallos.

As a result, the presidents of the 14 PASSHE institutions were advised by PASSHE’s legal team to review current weapons policies to ensure that they are defensible in a court of law.

“Our revised policy has been written to prohibit weapons, including legally registered firearms, in academic buildings, administrative buildings, student residence halls (both university owned or leased), dining facilities, student union buildings, athletic facilities, recreation centers, or while attending a sporting, entertainment or educational event on university property or sponsored by the university.”

Under the revised policy, the carrying of firearms will be permitted in open areas of campus by those persons who have a government issued license, according to Cevallos.

Any requests for further exceptions must be approved by the university chief of police.

“While I am cognizant of the concerns associated with this change, as a state institution we must follow the advice of legal counsel and do what is necessary to comply with the Second Amendment,” wrote Cevallos. “I can assure you that we have done everything to implement the strongest policy possible, while staying in compliance with constitutional rights.”

Cevallos said KU will be working to establish procedures related to these changes in the months ahead.

Updated Friday afternoon:

May 10, 2013

Dear KU Campus Community,

Cevallos today sent another message to the campus community:

The following statement was released by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education this afternoon. The statement indicates that the PASSHE Board of Governors will be reviewing the weapons policy as it affects all 14 state system universities.

“I personally believe guns have no place on campus, and by no means do we support having guns on our campus. We provide a very safe environment for learning and living and are committed to keeping it that way,” wrote Cevallos.

PASSHE WEAPONS POLICY STATEMENT:

There is no more compelling role for me as president than to ensure that our campus provides the safest learning environment possible. I want to emphasize this important fact. The university’s policies and priorities must also balance the rights of individuals under state and federal law.

In the spring of 2012 questions were raised by a number of individuals concerning campus firearms policy. In order to provide guidance on the issue, PASSHE legal counsel shared a model policy for consideration that addressed both public safety and constitutional concerns.

PASSHE universities have the ability to prohibit weapons, including legally registered firearms, in academic buildings, student residence halls, dining facilities, student union buildings, athletic facilities and recreation centers or while attending a sporting, entertainment or educational event on university property or sponsored by the university. However, PASSHE’s policies also must be consistent with Pennsylvania law, which allows individuals who are properly permitted to carry a firearm “on or about one’s person or in a vehicle throughout the Commonwealth.”

More recently, at the PASSHE Board of Governors meeting in April, Board Chairman Guido Pichini announced the establishment of a Public Safety and Security Task Force to study all areas of campus safety and university police operations in order to enhance efforts to ensure the safety and security of our students and staff, as well as that of all visitors to our campuses. The task force will include in its work a review of the issue of weapons on campus in order to help ensure consistency across the System and that the policies comply with the law.

While the task force reviews this issue, the Board has asked the universities to maintain the status quo in regards to their existing weapons policies.

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