The CU Board of Regents’ University Affairs Committee on Tuesday heard presentations from campus law enforcement and safety professionals, as well as public comment from students and faculty who support or oppose changing the university’s weapons policy.
The focal point for those who spoke in the public comment portion of the meeting was one facet of the university’s weapons policy, Colorado’s concealed carry law. It was extended to CU’s campuses after the state Supreme Court ruled against CU in 2012 in an appeal of a lawsuit won by Students for Concealed Carry, which in earlier legal actions argued that CU’s weapons policy violated Colorado’s Concealed Carry Act. In 2022, the Colorado Legislature passed a bill that returned the authority to set weapons policies to university governing boards.
Students and faculty on both sides of the issue spoke to regents at the meeting via Zoom while governance groups and others submitted resolutions, letters and statements in writing to the board for consideration. A video of the meeting is on the Board of Regents website, as are materials submitted.
“Students are scared, they’re scared of gun violence,” said Rachel Hill, one of the CU Student Government’s tri-executives. “I want you to know we’re not going to let up, we’re not going to stop coming. We’re not going to stop talking about it.”
But CU Boulder junior and active-duty U.S. Marine Justice Appiah criticized a CU student government survey that was used to bolster the case for a change to the weapons policy for only engaging a small, selected slice of students. “I urge you to pause this initiative until students can be engaged,” he said.
CU Boulder Mechanical Engineering Professor (and Boulder Faculty Assembly member) Shelly Miller echoed Hill’s comments. “Faculty are also scared. We are very concerned about the possibility of concealed carry in our classrooms.” She urged the board to treat it as it would any other public health issue.
Jeff Deickman, an adjunct faculty member and doctoral student at UCCS, suggested that reversing the weapons policy will hurt enrollment on the campus due to its substantial active duty military and veteran student base. He also said a change would draw an immediate legal challenge. “It will be challenged and overturned in court,” he said.
Before it took public comment, the board heard presentations from all the campus police chiefs (the Auraria Police serve CU Denver) and/or top safety professionals. Board members had requested to hear about current campus safety efforts. The police chiefs and safety officials detailed myriad efforts they engage in aimed at furthering campus safety, including physical initiatives such as the ability to electronically lock down buildings, camera systems, alert systems and card entry. They also discussed robust teams that deal with threat assessments and behavioral intervention. All focused on increased efforts to incorporate mental health programs into safety efforts.
“We take a holistic approach to safety, and a tiered approach,” said CU Boulder Police Chief Doreen Jokerst.
CU system spokesman Ken McConnellogue said the regents found the session valuable. “The Board of Regents continues to gather and digest information about CU’s weapons policy from members of the university community, as it did at Tuesday’s University Affairs Committee. The board appreciates the perspectives, opinions and engagement from a wide spectrum of students, faculty, staff and others,” he said. “The board also welcomed hearing from CU’s law enforcement and safety professionals on our four campuses regarding the extensive and effective measures they take to advance campus safety.”
At the board’s regular meeting on Feb. 9, several CU students encouraged the board to reverse the university’s weapons policy, articulated in Regent Policy 14.I, which allows those with a state concealed carry permit to possess handguns on campuses (with the exception of most residence halls and ticketed cultural and athletic events). Board Chair Lesley Smith referred the issue to the board’s University Affairs Committee for discussion and information gathering. She noted that the three new regents who began their terms in January are broadening their understanding of the issue and will continue to, while veteran board members also benefit from the discussions. All three of the newest regents attended the University Affairs Committee meeting on Tuesday.