Officials discuss their roles in campus weapons policy

By Olivia Welschans, Staff Writer

Recent crimes involving weapons on campus have brought attention to campus policy and student code involving the ownership and carrying of weapons.

According to the student code, “possession or storage of weapons by students is prohibited” in any University properties or residence halls.

Two students were arrested Oct. 5 for aggravated assault after attempting to scare several students in Oglesby residence hall using a pocket knife.

Patrick Wade, Communications Director for the University of Illinois Police Department, said in an email, “The offenders were reportedly using a weapon to scare people into thinking they might get hurt, which qualifies as aggravated assault under Illinois state law.”

For some weapons, like guns, the weapons policy is crystal clear. However, Justin Brown, Director of Student Conflict Resolution, said the code pertaining to some weapons, like knives, can be ambiguous.

“For certain purposes, knives are entirely okay, even large knives, but for carrying a knife around, the general expectation is that they be of blades less than three inches,” Brown said. “So you can possess steak knives in the residence halls, but it’s not okay to carry around a switchblade.”

Students are not often dismissed for possession of a knife, Brown said, if they are found in violation of the student code.

“We’re going to have an educational conversation with them, and we are going to talk about the rules surrounding knives, like they need to remove it and take it back home or in some cases have it confiscated by the police,” he said. “But if you use it in a violent or threatening way, more serious consequences are likely.”

In a situation where a student is found using a weapon in an illegal way on campus, Wade said that the police “will act in accordance with university policy and the laws of the state of Illinois.”

If a student possesses a weapon that violates campus policy but not state law, Wade said those students are turned over to Student Conflict Resolution.

William Kickert, freshman in Engineering, said he feels that the University handles its weapons policy well.

“I haven’t noticed any students that have them, so I think we are doing pretty well,” Kickert said.

Susan Y. Hessee, a lawyer for Student Legal Services, said that Student Legal Services does not see many cases of weapons violations.

“Usually when students get involved with weapons violations, they tend to be felony violations. They’re either in connection with drug dealing or just bad behavior in general. We don’t represent on felonies,” Hessee said.

If a student was to carry a concealed weapon onto campus property, she said the student could be charged with a Class B misdemeanor on their first violation, which she said could lead to six months of jail time, a $1,500 fine and community service.

Wade said in the event of any weapons violation, they put the safety of everyone involved first.

“Our first priority will always be to act quickly to ensure the safety of students and other campus community members,” Wade said.

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