Thursday, September 28, 2023

Students Against Gun Violence urge trustees to change MSU's gun policy

April 21, 2023
 Board of Trustees Meeting held at the Hannah Administration Building on Apr. 21, 2023.
Board of Trustees Meeting held at the Hannah Administration Building on Apr. 21, 2023. —
Photo by Denille Reid | The State News

Michigan State University Students Against Gun Violence members demanded the revision of MSU’s gun policy to ban the possession of firearms everywhere on campus regardless of permits.

At the board's April meeting, Students Against Gun Violence member Mason Vore said the university's policy contains a loophole allowing visitors to bring guns on campus. Vore referred to section 18.01 of the Board of Trustees firearms ordinance, which states that “except as permitted by state law regulating firearms, no person shall possess any firearm or weapon anywhere upon property governed by the Board.”

Section 18.01 allows members of the general public with valid gun permits to conceal carry in outdoor public spaces. The university's policy is unable to be more restrictive than state law, which only restricts firearms in dorms and classrooms, not public spaces. 

MSU’s gun policy prohibits open carry everywhere on campus for all individuals, regardless of whether they are affiliated with MSU, deputy spokesperson Dan Olsen said.

Vore said the organization addressed the board with the same demand a year ago. He said the board’s response was to wait for the resolution of Wade v. University of Michigan, a case challenging the University of Michigan’s firearm ban.

“We ask the board again, now today, to close a loophole and not take risk but catch up with every other university in the state in keeping guns off this campus,” Vore said. “It should not take violence on our campus for you to come to the decision that this needs change and should have changed long ago. It’s unconscionable that we have to ask again.”

Students Against Gun Violence president Cate Dombrowski said the university’s security changes following the Feb. 13 shooting, including the locking of academic buildings after 6 p.m., puts the burden of enforcing safety on students. She said that the board’s history of concerns regarding the Michigan State University Police Departments enforcement of the proposed policy change is preventing a safer campus.

“To that I say, 'do your damn job',” Dombrowski said. “You are the governing body of this campus. You make the policy and it’s up to the police to enforce the policies you set. This backwards defeatist mindset from both the board and our so called Public Safety Department is keeping us from creating a safer campus community.”

Vore said the refusal to change the policy is “blatant disrespect” to the MSU community. Dombrowski said changing the policy would be an investment in community care.

“We feel safest when we know and trust that the people around us and trust the people leading us have our best interests at heart,” Dombrowski said. “So change the MSU firearms policy and start implementing policies that build a tightly woven trust-based community. There’s a better future out there, if you take the time to actually invest in it.”

Even with recent gun violence prevention legislation passed in the Michigan Legislature, Sunrise Movement member and social relations and policy senior Vallen Krikor said true justice, safety and healing will not come from the state. Krikor said creating a safe campus must come through building community.

“Through these movements, we reaffirm our right to live,” Krikor said. “This includes resisting the urge to swing towards drastic security measures that expand the power of the police state and serve only to perpetuate a climate of fear, insecurity and distrust.”

Krikor said rebuilding trust on campus must start with the board and administration.

“It will not come through militarized policing and surveillance nor through withholding 6,000 documents surrounding the Nassar scandal that the community has a right to access in order to hold this institution accountable,” Krikor said. “Listen to what the community is calling on you to do today and meet the moment through transparent governance and policies that allow us to trust and care for each other.”

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