On May 8, 2015, University of Rhode Island President David Dooley signed a bill allowing police officials to be armed on campus. This transition was not only seen as imperative for our campus, but necessary for a safer school environment after the Chafee shooter scare.
Now, I know Dooley and Stephen Baker, URI’s director of public safety, acknowledged all areas for improving campus safety, but I am still confused about how adding guns resolves any problems for this situation. The San Bernardino shooter killed 14 people, the shooter in Newtown shot 20 children and six adults, the Charleston shooter killed nine adults and 13 students were killed in the Columbine shootings. Sadly, I could keep going, but will refrain for the list would be endless. In reality, the question becomes would adding guns to any of these instances have prevented the attacks? Well, the short answer is we really don’t really know.
What I do know is that guns are not the answer to the problem in the long run. As a university that strives to “Think Big,” how is the addition of guns to a college campus in any form a progressive movement? Why don’t we arm the faculty as well just in case the police can’t enter a building fast enough? How about the RIPTA drivers too? As a student, I do not feel any safer with campus officers carrying weapons and see this as a huge injustice taken by the administration.
In a perfect world, the U.S. would take some initiative and outlaw guns for the entire country, but that apparently takes time and more mass shootings. Why follow in the country’s mistakes and add the one device our university was commended for never administering?
As I am writing this piece, I already know that nothing will change, and when I graduate guns will still be attached to URI belts. My goal is more to highlight the critical implications of attaching guns to a college campus. The result is to merely create a conversation among students, faculty and the administration.
Guns should not be the final answer, and Dooley should be still drafting plans for a safer campus that does not condone arming officers. I ask students and staff to really think about the severities of this situation, and keep discussing this topic. Nothing is set in stone on a college campus and we as a community can change just about anything. It’s our tuition money, isn’t it?