University versus state

Sarah Hillenbrand

At Grand Valley State University, there is a strict no-weapon policy on campus. Though it is legal in Michigan to openly carry a firearm or have a permit for a concealed weapon, this is still not allowed for anyone on the university campus.

Capt. Brandon DeHaan, assistant director of public safety, said the GVSU student code specifically prohibits any kind of weapon on university property or on university housing. Section 2.15 of the student code states that “Possession or use of firearms, firecrackers, explosives, toxic or dangerous chemicals or materials; or anything that can be construed as a weapon that operates based on spring, gas or air is not permitted on university property or in university housing at any time.”

Though some students may be advocates for allowing weapons on campus, Bart Merkle, vice provost for student affairs and dean of students, said he doesn’t see the no-weapon rule being overturned in the future.

“There has been conversation about legislative changes, but there have been no changes to the university’s policy,” he said. “It’s very straightforward, and I don’t anticipate us changing that unless we are forced to. I am vehemently opposed to anyone other than certified police officers being able to carry guns on campus.”

If a student were to bring a gun to class, even in a non-malicious manner, DeHaan said the police department should be called to deal with the situation.

“If the weapon was not displayed and they were not committing a state crime, they would be asked to remove it from campus,” he said. “In the student code, individuals are responsible for the student code. That being said, if we have students who violate the student code, a judicial referral would be filed with the Dean of Students Office for a violation.”

Merkle said he would handle the situation from there, but he couldn’t say specifically how the person would be disciplined since the situation has never occurred before.

“We have not had cases like that go though our discipline system,” Merkle said. “It would have to go through the hearing process and whether they denied it or admitted to it and assign a sanction.”

Though there has never been a case of a student bringing a weapon to class, DeHaan said there have been rare occasions where officers have come across weapons in vehicles on campus.

“If a student has a concealed pistol license but they bring it on campus, they are asked to take it off campus. And the same holds true for any visitors,” he said.

In the future, Merkle said he hopes the university never changes, or is never forced to change, the weapon policy at GVSU — or any other university.

“I’m vehemently opposed to the concealed carry of weapons on any university campus,” he said. “I think it’s absolutely ridiculous to consider doing that. I respect others’ views, but I am strong in my belief. It would not improve the security of our community, and I will do everything I can to oppose the extension of weapons onto our campus.”

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