Brandeis President Gives Gun Go Ahead

WALTHAM, Mass. – President Jehuda Reinharz of Brandeis University (BU) declared that the university intends to start arming campus safety officers. The new policy will take three to six months to carry out.

In an E-mail sent to everyone on campus on Sept. 12, the president wrote that in an effort to continue enhancing safety and security on campus, he requested a committee be put together to review the idea of arming Brandeis public safety officers. After considering the information submitted by the committee, he decided to move forward with arming the officers.

The committee formed in June and met five times to discuss what it discovered.

Several committee members initially had reservations about giving the officers guns. Some held the belief that a university campus should be a safe space without people carrying weapons. One graduate student mentioned that some students who come from communities where police are oppressive had concerns.

After the findings, many committee members changed their positions. One major concern was the fact that even a brief delay of Waltham police getting to campus could have grave consequences for students, staff and faculty.

The Waltham police captain thinks the university will be more secure if its public safety officers were armed.

The report said that all public safety officers are trained at the State Police Academy, and are required to recertify regularly. The report went on to state that even though the officers carry mace and clubs, not carrying guns prohibits them from intervening in any situation involving weapons, leaving them no choice but to wait until Waltham police officers arrive.

Student responses have varied. Some believe the reason for the decision must have been based on what happened at Virginia Tech, and that it will add a layer of protection, as long as officers are trained on how to use the guns. Others commented that students and alumni should have been included more in the discussion and that some alumni won’t donate anymore because of the decision. One student worried that adding firearms might unnecessarily escalate some situations.

The campus director of public safety attended the meetings and agreed with the report, noting there is sometimes up to a five minute delay before police arrive on the scene. He mentioned the addition of security features, like the siren system, and text message and voice-messaging system, but added that as first responders, the public safety officers need the tools to effectively do their jobs.

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