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Campus puts students at undue risk: while restricting "basic natural rights"
February 12, 2002
by Josh Dazey and Jessica Mainard,
Collegiate Programs, Second Amendment Foundation

Ted Bundy, Charles Whitman, Albert "The Boston Strangler" DeSalvo, John Collins, David "Son of Sam" Berkowitz and Gary Bishop; all serial killers who preyed on college students or haunted college towns. Want to talk about crime on college campuses? How about; homicide, armed robbery, rape, carjacking, stalking and burglary to name a few? According to a Department of Education report, there were 754 murders on college and university campuses nationwide in 1999 alone.

At Purdue University a graduate student admitted to the murder of two doctoral Students, Yeunkyung Woo, 31, and her sister Hyo Kyung Woo, 29. They were bludgeoned with a hammer. The bodies were found in one of the girls' campus apartment (8/10/01).

Gallaudet University, the nation's only all-deaf school has had two students murdered in the same dormitory, both in the month of October, 2000. Another student age 20 was charged with the murders which occurred during robbery attempts.

In March 2001, at Virginia Tech a freshman reported that she had been beaten by a janitor in a computer lab. The girl underwent reconstructive surgery to repair several broken vertebrae.

At Hofstra University, a 23 year-old senior was arrested for allegedly stabbing and disemboweling fellow student Max Kolb, 20. He then kept Kolb's body in the back of his Land Rover for a week, and later in a rented storage facility, before burying the body in the backyard of his rented off-campus house.

At the traditionally liberal Mt. Holyoke college in Massachusetts, several students are taking a step toward their safety. With the assistance of the Second Amendment Sisters, this brave group of fifty young women has started a chapter of Second Amendment Sisters as an on-campus student organization. Club founder Christine Caywood told CNS News (1/31/02) that unarmed students are "almost completely helpless" and she points out the irony in the college's position on empowering women by limiting their access to firearms for personal protection. Mt. Holyoke won't be the only chapter either. A chapter is planned for Michigan State University.

Nancy Hwa, spokesperson from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, predictably told CNS news in the same article "I don't know where they get the idea that it's the number-one self-protection method…It's unfortunate that these groups are spreading misinformation about the usefulness of firearms for self-protection."

While Caywood acknowledges that it may be a while before the University recognizes the students' constitutional rights, the club will focus on arming the campus police, that they might serve and protect a little better.

Even with frequently published data on crime statistics and campus security and police forces, an organization named "Campus Safety Incorporated" says that one in ten women are raped during their college years, and that 80 percent of college crime is student-on-student. Additionally the FBI tells us that college-aged students are the most likely victims of violent crime. Ms. Hwa and her colleagues at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence need to get a clue. Self-defense is not violence. It is a speedy, decisive end to violence and quite frequently a lifesaver.

Most campus police do a great job cleaning up after a crime. Being on campus provides them with a speedy response and a watchful eye, but sadly they really are not a preventative measure, but a reactive one. As it stands now, college students aren't protected within the hallowed walls of the university, they're waiting defenseless in a holding tank for future victims.

With all of this good news what tools have your campus administrators allowed you to combat this hostile environment?

One has many options in the off-campus civilian world: guard dogs, big fences, high-tech home security systems, mace or guns. Would any of these options fly on a college campus? We think not.

If you asked your campus administrators what they recommend for "protection" on campus, what would you expect to learn? Here's an example:

  1. Lock your doors and always park in a well-lit parking space.
  2. "Don't let your guard down…" and don't walk or drive alone, and don't go anywhere in groups of less than three. Don't sleep.
  3. Carry a whistle or personal alarm. If this works for you, let us know as you could easily be the first successful case.
  4. Take a self-defense class (for about $133.00/credit, not to exceed your full-time class load of 21 credits per semester).
  5. Stay in your dorm room. Pull the drapes. Do not answer the door. Do not use the Internet. Do not date. Forget the fact that dorm room noise is consistently ignored by housemates, and dorm "security" is often bypassed if not nonexistent altogether.

"Secure" dorm rooms such as Jeane Clery's 1986 dorm room in Bethlehem, PA, are often perceived to be safe, but create a prime example of an oxymoron. Tragically, that mistake cost Ms. Clery her life. She was alone in her dorm at Leigh University, protected by a self-locking door that was supposed to keep non-students out of the building. A pizza box was deliberately used to jam the self-locking security door open. The dormitory "security" was useless because of a thoughtless student, and an eight-dollar box of pizza.

Don't feel safe yet? Neither do we.

Matthew Shepard didn't feel safe either, and sadly he was unable to protect himself. Two homophobic thugs murdered the University of Wyoming student just off campus. The murder was elevated to the status of a "hate crime," and the question of Mr. Shepard's safety on campus was never raised.

Campus administrators just don't get it. Daily, American college administrators are separating their students from both reality and their basic Constitutional rights. First, they are misleading students, regarding the safety of their living facilities. Second, they are neglecting to give students adequate means of protecting themselves. Two things that private, off-campus landlords and municipal government agencies could never legally do. To make matters worse campus administrators deliberately propagate a misleading set of crime statistics giving unsuspecting students a false sense of security.

Take Ramapo College of New Jersey for example: In 1998 the campus police made three arrests for drug offenses. But according to the legally required crime reports, those arrests never happened. The same went for burglaries… 25 investigated, and only two made it to the record, clearly violating the Campus Security Act.

Finally, most campus administrators forbid students from using many viable means of self-defense such as mace, pepper spray, or a guard dog, and they consistently deny students the Constitutional right to keep a firearm for self-defense.

How do the Million-Mom's college-aged daughters protect themselves while away at school? Do they wrap themselves in the cozy world provided to them by the university administration's lies and "misstatements" about the safety of their mandatory living environment? Surely not. Why then expect the rest of us to sit passively by as their daughter's rights or bodies are attacked?

So, in our quest for the safest college living environment, here's what we've learned:

Live off-campus. Honest community crime statistics are available from your local municipal or county police department. If you are mugged or attacked at the bus stop on the way home, those crimes are not reported as "campus" crimes, thereby making your campus a "safer" place.

The fact is that a few simple tools could significantly amplify your personal security. A big dog that barks might keep a campus safer. Better yet, the shotgun or handgun that your grandfather kept in the closet or dresser drawer kept him sleeping soundly at night-why not you? In truth, firearms are the most effective means of self-defense for the average person. A handgun does not require a muscular person, nor fifteen years of intense training. It requires only a level-headed disposition, and the ability to aim a gun at a target. Several gun-safety courses later, you are proficient, and can decisively protect yourself.

Shannon MacNamara could have been helped by a few protective measures. She was murdered in her dorm room at Eastern Illinois University by another student who had been stalking her. At the time of the murder, the suspect was out on bond for separate assault and battery offenses in Charleston Ill.

For those who are averse to protecting themselves, stop for a moment and look at the numbers. Firearms are used to stop crimes and for protection 2.5 million times per year, which means that 25-75 lives are saved for every life that is lost due to gun violence.

Campus administrators as well as anti-gun propagandists must recognize their own limitations, and allow students the most basic of human rights-safe living conditions, and the ability to protect themselves from harm.

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