St. Thomas to maintain weapons-free campus policies

The University of St. Thomas will maintain its long-held policy of having weapons-free campuses.

The issue arose following the Minnesota Legislature’s approval of the Minnesota Citizens’ Personal Protection Act, which took effect May 28. The act allows individuals to obtain permits to carry and possess firearms and restricts the ability of businesses and private establishments, including universities, to control the possession of firearms on campuses.

The consensus of the President’s Staff, which discussed the issue at length on June 9, was to maintain the no-weapons policy.

Among the issues discussed was the new law’s requirement to post signs at all entrances to buildings and to personally inform everyone entering a building that “this facility is a gun-free facility.” Even if those steps are taken, the new law says the university still cannot prohibit the lawful carrying of firearms in parking lots, parking ramps or common areas such as campus grounds and buildings open to the public.

“The university has decided that we will not post the signs on campus but we will maintain a weapons-free campus,” said Dan Meuwissen, director of Public Safety and Parking Services. “Individuals found on campus with weapons will be asked to leave.”

St. Thomas will inform students, faculty, staff and visitors about its policy through regular written communications such as Bulletin Today. In addition, information will be distributed at events such as orientation sessions for new students.

It’s rare to find a weapon on campus, Meuwissen pointed out.

“As a private business we still have the right to have whoever we would like on campus, and that’s the approach we’re taking,” he said. “This is a weapons-free university. It’s in our policies. It’s in our statements. It’s in our Employee Handbook. And it’s in our Student Policy Book.”