Two Gonzaga University students face expulsion this week after they used a pistol to defend themselves at their apartment.
Roommates Erik Fagan and Dan McIntosh, both seniors, used a pistol to fend off John Michael Taylor, a felon who flashed his ankle bracelet in an attempt to intimidate them and gain entry to their university owned apartment. The Gonzaga Bulletin reports they called police and Taylor was apprehended. Their phone call to Spokane Police Department triggered another visit from campus security. But instead of showing an interest in the felon threatening students, campus security was interested in Fagan and McIntosh.
Possession of a firearm on university property is prohibited. Campus security confiscated the firearms and referred the incident to the University Discipline Board. The two attended a board hearing Friday and await the outcome this week.
It is key to note that while Gonzaga is a private institution and is rightfully free to regulate firearms possession on its property, it is following policies in place at public schools that are not only specifically permitted by law, but codified as law.
WAC 478-124-020 prohibits “possession or use of firearms, explosives, dangerous chemicals or other dangerous weapons or instrumentalities on the university campus, except for authorized university purposes, unless prior written approval has been obtained from the university chief of police, or any other person designated by the president of the university.”
WAC 478-124-030 provides that any “person while on the university campus who willfully refuses the request of a uniformed campus police officer to desist from conduct prohibited by these rules may be required by such officer to leave such premises.” Failure to leave the premises is considered criminal trespass in the first degree. Criminal trespass in the first degree is a gross misdemeanor punishable by 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine.
The same section of code that gives non-affiliates two chances before facing any serious sanctions ramps up to serious sanctions for affiliates immediately. “Disciplinary action which may result in dismissal from the university will be initiated against faculty, staff, or students who violate these rules.” University affiliates get no such free pass.
The sanctions sometimes carry consequences so severe that even where otherwise permitted by law affiliates will follow policy and not carry. Even if they choose to ignore policy and follow law, the resulting court case can take as long as two years. By this time, the affiliate’s life may have been damaged beyond repair.
University affiliates often face double standards. These double standards are usually put into place by the university as a result of limited authority. However, in Washington State, the double standard is law.
One should not be forced to surrender his or her rights when seeking or supporting an advanced education. Public university affiliates should get the same treatment as non-affiliates with respect to firearms on campus. Anything otherwise creates a second class of citizens where affiliates are the lesser.