W allows firearms on campus

 New rules allow certain visitors to carry firearms in non-sensitive areas such as the campus gazebo. Photo by Asia Duren.

New rules allow certain visitors to carry firearms in non-sensitive areas such as the campus gazebo. Photo by Asia Duren.

Asia Duren

Reporter

MUW has been dealing with how to implement a state law regarding firearms on campus.

The Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning charged public universities with defining non-sensitive areas where visitors with an enhanced concealed carry permit would be allowed to bring firearms in February of this year.

MUW President Jim Borsig enlisted a group of campus employees to decide which spaces on The W campus should be considered non-sensitive. Karen Clay, university counsel, explained the process in more depth. 

“IHL charged all of its public universities to determine on each campus where there would be the sensitive and non-sensitive areas,” said Clay. “Then for our campus, Dr. Borsig appointed a task force to look at the new policy from IHL to determine which areas we should determine sensitive and non-sensitive. That task force made recommendations to the President’s cabinet, then the President’s cabinet considered those recommendations, and then this policy was created.” 

Although the policy has changed for the public, students and employees of The W are still unable to carry weapons of any kind on The W campus, even in non-sensitive areas. 

“The policy on firearms has not changed for students and has not changed for employees,” said Clay. “They’re still not permitted to carry firearms no matter, even if the person has a concealed carry permit. What the policy does is it identifies places on campus that are public areas, or non-sensitive areas where non-employees, non-students – if they have an enhanced concealed carry permit – would be permitted to carry a firearm.”

Tyler Wheat, communication specialist, explained where some sensitive areas on campus are located. 

“Sensitive areas would be areas that are classrooms,” said Wheat. “Buildings like the counseling center, the campus health center, the rec center – buildings that are specifically designed for student use.”

KevinAnthony Carroll Jr., a junior and music education major, believes that this new policy has benefits and downfalls.

“I see where it is an OK thing for visitors to do that because they’re not a member of the school in any way, so I see where they still have the right to carry in those non-sensitive areas,” said Carroll. “However, where the negativity and the bad come in is that nobody knows any of these visitors’ ulterior motives.” 

One area that students may be surprised to discover marked as non-sensitive is the Hogarth cafeteria. 

“I am kind of confused on Hogarth being considered a non-sensitive area because that is where most students are going to be,” said Carroll. “That whole area, in my opinion, should be a sensitive area because that’s a huge target area.” 

However, Clay reasoned, it could be a non-sensitive area because any member of the general public can use the cafeteria, the book store or the post office at any time.  

The policy can be found in the Mississippi University for Women student handbook and employee handbook or online at http://www.muw.edu/images/sa/studentlife/forms/2016-Handbook.pdf.