Prohibit ALL students, including on-duty student police officers, from bringing weapons to class.
  • Petitioning The Senate, Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador

This petition will be delivered to:

c/o Sheila Singleton, Secretary of Senate, pro tempore
The Senate, Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador

Prohibit ALL students, including on-duty student police officers, from bringing weapons to class.

    1. Petition by

      Stephen Crocker

      St John's, Canada

In November of 2013, the Senate of Memorial University of Newfoundland  and Labrador voted to exempt on-duty student police officers from an existing university regulation (8.4) which prohibits all students from bringing weapons onto campus and into classrooms. The revised regulation now allows on-duty student police officers to bring their loaded weapons to class. 

 

This decision, which many believe greatly affects the educational quality and safety of our classrooms, took place with virtually no public discussion. Almost no one with whom I have spoken in the university has heard about this decision and almost everyone I have told about it has expressed opposition to it. This petition asks the Senate to reverse the decision and reinstate the previously existing regulation that prohibits ALL students, including student police officers from bringing weapons onto campus and into classrooms.

There are a number of compelling reasons to be concerned about this change in firearms policy and to insist that the decision allowing firearms in classrooms be reversed.

1. In  their consideration, Senators in favor of the exemption argued that on-duty police are allowed to be on campus with guns anyway, when they are called for police emergency.  But 'the police'  only come on campus with guns for reasons of  extreme emergency.  To make the emergency protocol  the normal operating procedure for everyday classroom use  is an unprecedented and frightening development.

2. The reason for this new policy is that the police claim that it is inconvenient for on-duty student Police officers to change out of uniform before coming to class. Is an organizational scheduling problem sufficient reason to impose this enormous change in weapons policy on campus? Have the Senate and police department explored all other possible options? Surely there must be many other ways of solving the minor problem of changing uniforms. The police department is located less than ten minutes from campus. Can they change there? Could they have a change room and locker at the offices of Campus Enforcement and Patrol? And why do Police get such special treatment here? Many other students have equally complex schedules and deal with the inconvenience of having to change before class.

3. Like many others with whom  I have spoken, I am frightened by the prospect of a gun in a classroom. I do not think that I can be as focused on teaching in the presence of a gun. The President of the Graduate Students Union has said, in a letter to the Telegram, that he thinks he could not be as effective a student in the presence of guns. Would you want to be a student sitting next to someone with a gun? Do you feel free to speak your mind in the presence of a gun? These are important questions about basic principles of university life: can the threat of violence and force coexist with the spirit of education? 

4.There are also basic questions of personal safety to be raised. There is a powerful argument  to be made that introducing a gun into a situation makes it a more dangerous situation. What if, for instance, the lone  student Police officer, his/her  attention already divided between between police duty and class discussion, is overpowered by one of his sixty classmates and the gun is made available to others? Then we find that we are a captive population in a  closed  room with a gun - a familiar scenario in countless scenes of gun-related violence on North American campuses. It seems clear to me that even the possibility of this scenario is a significant threat to personal safety and cannot be justified by the minor convenience of not having to change before class. 

5.In all of this, I think that the important point to be made is that we do not teach ' the Police' as such. MUN is not a police academy. We teach students who happen to be police. We teach all sorts of other professionals as well, and we expect them to leave their professional paraphernalia at home. While we teach them, they are students. Students are not allowed to have guns in the classroom. If this means that the police cannot be on duty while in class ( how could they do that effectively anyway?), or must lock the guns in the trunk of their  cars while in class, then that seems like a reasonable compromise.

6. Even if it is only a small minority  who feel strongly opposed to the presence of loaded weapons in class, that should be enough to compel the Senate to reverse the decision  since all that is at stake here is a minor scheduling conflict in the police department that cannot warrant the enormous change in university culture that  this new regulation brings into effect. 

The Senate of Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador  should reverse the decision to allow weapons in the classroom. Clearly the decision was made without adequate consultation of all those affected and without due consideration and public debate of all possible alternatives to this drastic measure. We do not want to attend classes with armed student police officers and believe that other less extreme solutions should be found for the problems of scheduling and uniforms changes in the police department.

 

To:
The Senate, Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador, c/o Sheila Singleton, Secretary of Senate, pro tempore
Prohibit ALL students, including on-duty student police officers, from bringing weapons to class.

Sincerely,
[Your name]

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Senate committee seeks feedback on police and guns at Mun

      Stephen Crocker
      Petition Organizer

      Thank you for signing the petition asking MUN Senate to prohibit on-duty student police offers from bringing weapons to class. The petition has gathered 740 signatures and provided a valuable public forum to discuss a range of concerns about the presence of weapons on campus. I encourage you to visit the petition at http://chn.ge/OY1Pwk and browse through the comments, if you have not already done so.

      As you may know, in response to the public outcry against the decision to allow guns in class, Senate has formed a special committee to revisit the November decision. This is a welcome development about which we can remain cautiously optimistic. The committee now invites feedback from ALL instructors, whether they teach police or not, on their thoughts about guns in class. I would like to encourage you to share your concerns in writing with the committee. Even a brief note can help to demonstrate your continuing concern about this matter. If you can, please forward your comments to bhammond@mun.ca. The deadline for submissions is Friday, October 24.

      I would also like to take this opportunity to remind you of two important pieces of information that have emerged since the petition first went up:

      1) It has been falsely reported that police must be on duty while in class, and must therefore remain armed in the classroom. Police officers who are students have a clear and unambiguous right under their own collective agreement (clause 29.07) to time off during duty to attend classes. MUN can, and should, insist that RNC officers make use of this provision rather than introduce weapons into an academic setting. At the very least, MUN should represent the academic interests of those officers who may well wish to make use of this very reasonable provision in their collective agreement and attend class as any other student must – unarmed.

      2) Senate is not 'regularizing' an accepted and uncontroversial practice, as they claim. Senate was asked to make a ruling on guns in class because students and faculty have been complaining about guns in the classrooms. Now it is clear that a great number of people are strongly opposed to the practice.

      There are, of course, many other reasons to object to the presence of weapons in class which you will find on the petition site.

      Please convey your concerns to the Senate committee on sidearms and help put an end to this unwelcome presence of guns in classes, and please feel free to forward this message to anyone else who shares your concerns about guns in classrooms at MUN.

      Best Wishes
      Steve Crocker

      The Senate, Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador: Prohibit ALL students, including on-duty student police officers, from bringing weapons to class.

      In November of 2013, the Senate of Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador voted to exempt on-duty student police officers from an existing...

    2. Reached 750 signatures
    3. RNC are entitled to time off DURING THEIR SHIFT to attend university.

      Stephen Crocker
      Petition Organizer

      I have learned that that the current RNC Collective Agreement ( available online) clearly states that officers may request time off DURING THEIR SHIFT to attend class.

      Clause 29.07 reads :

      Police officers who are enrolled in either the Criminology
      Certificate Program or in the Degree of Bachelor of Arts (Police Studies)
      program at Memorial University may request from the Chief of Police time offo attend classes which occur during their regular shift.

      So, the police themselves gave this issue some forethought and considered it reasonable and desirable that officers take time off during their shift in order to attend class.

      If you have a moment, write the senate ( senate@mun.ca) and ask if they were aware of this important piece of information when they changed weapons regulations. Some may now wish to change their position. Ask the Senators who represent your faculty. Let them know that police do not need to be on duty or in uniform or armed while attending class.

    4. Reached 500 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Matthew Sheppard OTTAWA, CANADA
      • 1 day ago

      As a former MUN alum, this issue is a no brainer.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Mark Callanan ST. JOHN'S, CANADA
      • 3 days ago

      I don't believe anyone should have the right to bring firearms or other weapons into a classroom setting. Also, I question why officers can't attend classes while not on-duty.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Patricia Williams ST. JOHNS, CANADA
      • 3 days ago

      I live across from MUN and feel like part of the MUN community. As well, this is Canada...we do not have a gun toting culture.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Stephen Jones ST JOHN'S, CANADA
      • 3 days ago

      Guns and universities don't mix.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Joan Dohey ST. JOHN'S, CANADA
      • 4 days ago

      I do NOT want a gun culture in my city, and MUCH less in my alma mater.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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