CU profs can't cancel classes if student is legally carrying a gun, administrator says

phil distefano 2012.jpg
Phil DiStefano.
Earlier this week, we told you about CU-Boulder's new regs concerning concealed-carry permits -- changes necessitated by a Colorado Supreme Court ruling allowing them on campus two years after the university added Nerf guns to its banned weapons list. Shortly thereafter, one professor said he'd cancel class if he learned a student was packing heat -- an announcement that prompted CU administrator Phil DiStefano to fire a warning shot.

Jerry Peterson is among the most distinguished instructors on the CU-Boulder campus -- a professor of physics who's also a Jefferson Science Fellow for the U.S. Department of State and a faculty member in the schools international affairs program. But he doesn't appear to be a big fan of students being strapped. He told the Boulder Daily Camera, "My own personal policy in my classes is if I am aware that there is a firearm in the class -- registered or unregistered, concealed or unconcealed -- the class session is immediately canceled." He added, "I want my students to feel unconstrained in their discussions."

jerry peterson.jpg
Jerry Peterson.
Such a statement by a professor of Peterson's stature brings with it the prospect of mutiny -- a response that could undo CU's carefully calibrated response to the Supreme Court's order that it allow concealed carry. No surprise, then, that DiStefano, CU's chancellor, would rush out a statement telling Peterson and any other professor ready to go rogue on weapons that it's not allowed.

In an e-mail to faculty that's also been published on the CU website, DiStefano writes that "I have the utmost respect for Professor Peterson, who is an old friend and valued colleague." However, DiStefano promptly adds that Peterson's announced policy "directly violates Colorado law and the operating principles of the campus. Faculty do not have the right to shut down a class or to refuse to teach merely because a student in that class is carrying a handgun under a concealed carry permit."

He frames this violation in terms that liberal Boulderites will presumably understand: discrimination. In his words, "Such actions discriminate not only against the concealed carry permit holder -- who is exercising a basic right granted under Colorado law -- they deprive all other students of the education they have paid for and have a right to."

Even after the Aurora theater shooting, allegedly perpetrated by onetime CU-Denver graduate student James Holmes, plenty of folks on the CU campus are uncomfortable with the idea of people carrying guns with them as they go about their studies, even if they're entirely within their legal right to do so. As such, Peterson's remarks, and DiStefano's swift reply, are unlikely to be the last words on this very difficult subject.

Here's DiStefano's entire e-mail to faculty.

Many of you are aware that last March the Colorado Supreme Court ruled the University of Colorado Board of Regents lacks the authority to enact any provision against the Colorado Concealed Carry law. Last week, as I'm sure you are aware, we informed the campus and the public of how the law would be implemented on campus, with provisions for concealed carry permit holders to live in graduate student apartments.

I want to take this opportunity to clarify what concealed carry will mean for the campus, in light of recent media reports quoting BFA chair Jerry Peterson's position that he will not teach any class if he becomes aware that a student is carrying a weapon. Safety and a classroom environment conducive to learning were clearly at the center of Professor Peterson's comments, but it is important that those comments are not misconstrued with respect to what the rights and responsibilities of our faculty and staff are as they pertain to the recent Supreme Court ruling on the concealed carry permit issue.

I have the utmost respect for Professor Peterson, who is an old friend and valued colleague, but I want to make clear that if the student carrying the weapon has a concealed carry permit, the position implied by Professor Peterson's comments directly violates Colorado law and the operating principles of the campus. Faculty do not have the right to shut down a class or to refuse to teach merely because a student in that class is carrying a handgun under a concealed carry permit.

Such actions discriminate not only against the concealed carry permit holder - who is exercising a basic right granted under Colorado law - they deprive all other students of the education they have paid for and have a right to. On this issue there can be no ambiguity: all CU-Boulder faculty, as CU and state employees, are expected to teach their assigned courses and to hold class for all enrolled students. Cancelling a class because of who is enrolled in it is never acceptable. Faculty who do this violate the terms of their contract with the University and face departmental discipline.

I understand that, given recent events in Aurora, Texas and Wisconsin, people are on edge regarding issues of firearms. But I also believe this moment requires calm, focus, and a clear commitment to the law. I further believe we have a safe campus, one of the finest police forces in the country, and a conscientious faculty of integrity, talent and commitment. We need to trust in these things, and in one another, while continuing to be vigilant about safety procedures and practices.

If you have questions, please feel free to email the office of the Associate Vice Chancellor for Faculty Affairs (faculty), the Interim Vice Chancellor for Administration (staff) or the Office of Student Affairs (students). I believe it is time to proceed with the important work of teaching, research and service with the launch of a new academic year, trusting in our training, experience and values to guide our community.

I know our faculty, staff and students will rise to this occasion as they always do.

More from our Education archive: "CU-Boulder doesn't think gun restrictions discriminate against concealed-carry holders."

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35 comments
Dgrr
Dgrr

So when someone goes nuts and starts firing a gun at a school, the american solution is to arm all the students??  You americans, gotta love you, you`re so confused and messed up, its amazing to watch. Guns dont kill people, americans with guns kill people.

Giuliana Pigatti
Giuliana Pigatti

why a student should carry a gun at university !!! it is just absurd ,, legal or not legal nobody should carry guns ..

Ozzie Perch
Ozzie Perch

If he was a Democrat, no problem; he's just defending himself from Republikans who may turn wacko at any moment(wait, what ...didn't that just happen!?)

ykelly
ykelly

Mark Twain once said, "If you hold a cat by the tail you learn things you cannot learn any other way," and the University of Colorado Board Of Regents is doing just that. In their pious, veiled attempt to gain the moral high ground, they assert that violation of a student's legal right to carry a concealed firearm is discrimination, yet they initiate rules which are clearly discriminatory.

 

Segregating those who chose the legal option to effectively defend themselves by assigning them to a separate residence reeks of a distorted, myopic mindset where a group of individuals is of lesser value and not worthy of integration into the institution's common practices. Ban them to a gulag because they are unsafe!

 

As the University of Colorado guiding officials bungle though their ordeal of isolating those who have chosen a different option than what the Board Of Regents considers the norm, let's hope that they learn the difference between discrimination/segregation and values of equality which we purport to practice in this great nation. Hopefully, their epiphany will occur before we regress to a time in this nation's history where citizens who were considered to be different, experienced the horrible practice of segregation.  

bowtow
bowtow

Peter, it's difficult to find a Militia that is not a bunch of crazy assholes  or just a branch of FEMA (which is Federal).  I would be in a Militia if they were actually controlled by their local community.  Mizter Synister, this is a state law, not a Federal law.  It applies to state Universities only, not private ones like DU.  But while I share your enthusiasm for local control, I also want all public facilities to be places where we can exercise as much freedom as possible, including that covered by the first and second amendment.  Mark Johnson, I understand your point, but think about how many school shootings where it takes the police so long to respond.  I would rather have someone there right then.

 

I have been carrying concealed on Campus legally for 2 years.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Too rich ... coming from the perjurer Phil DUIstefano who willfully violated the constitutional rights of Ward Churchill ... then lied about it under oath in a court of law.

 

 

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

What a surprise!  While idiot and convicted drunken driver DiSteffano was obsessing about cannabis and 4/20, the campus was being infiltrated by heavily-armed, sovereign citizens now poised to invade classrooms and surveil them for violent or un-American outbursts.  How much more misdirection can CU stand?  Dump Benson and DiSteffano now!

Blake Morrison
Blake Morrison

No, I wouldn't feel comfortable. That's the best way to keep me from going to movies as well (if it became common that many people brought guns into the theater). Why is it allowable to bring guns on campus but not in a gov't building, elementary school etc? The 2nd amendment was extremely specific for use in keeping state militias ready for war in a time when we didn't have a standing army. If we want to uphold the 2nd amendment, we should issue everyone muskets and dissolve our standing army.

Blake Morrison
Blake Morrison

No, I wouldn't feel comfortable. That's the best way to keep me from going to movies as well (if it became common that many people brought guns into the theater). Why is it allowable to bring guns on campus but not in a gov't building, elementary school etc? The 2nd amendment was extremely specific for use in keeping state militias ready for war in a time when we didn't have a standing army. If we want to uphold the 2nd amendment, we should issue everyone muskets and dissolve our standing army.

Hunter Sondeen
Hunter Sondeen

Hell yes. An armed society is a polite society. Oh, and it's in the 2nd amendment

Hunter Sondeen
Hunter Sondeen

Hell yes. An armed society is a polite society. Oh, and it's in the 2nd amendment

Peter Dunn
Peter Dunn

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." This was a states' rights issue; If you're not in a well-regulated militia, why do you have a gun?

Tim Tindle
Tim Tindle

Yep. That way the kid that overdoses on His psych meds could be stopped sooner if he goes nuts.

Mizter Synister
Mizter Synister

Its better to have and not need, then to need and not have.

David Murphy
David Murphy

But this Is in fact America...Its funny how people like to pick and choose the laws they abide by, as if they have the choice. And do you really think that people with the intentions to do harm to others would all of the sudden Not do harm because they were asked to not bring their guns to class that day. Come on. People will do what they do, insane or sane, laws or no laws, and I would rather have a concealed gun on my person and not need it then need it and not have it.

Mizter Synister
Mizter Synister

It should be the school, not the federal government mandating that legal carry is prohibited on campus. The job of federal government is to uphold the constitution.

Matt Gillespie
Matt Gillespie

I'm so sick of this "this is America", "we have the right" crap. A university should have gun bans on campus just as grade schools, government buildings, airplanes, etc. There is no reason to carry a gun to class. It shouldn't even be a discussion.

Mark Johnson
Mark Johnson

No, absolutely not. A "hero" with bad aim in a chaotic situation is the last thing I want to have in my classroom.

Christopher Troy Jackson
Christopher Troy Jackson

isn't most of the false left right paradigm propaganda spewed by CU professors more dangerous than a bullet anyway? Cancel class for that reason

Rob Lilyandgabe Perez
Rob Lilyandgabe Perez

This is america. We have rights and a right to bear arms is one of the rights we as american people are entitled to

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

 @ykelly "Segregating those who chose the legal option to effectively defend themselves by assigning them to a separate residence reeks of a distorted, myopic mindset where a group of individuals is of lesser value and not worthy "

 

So are the students < 21 years old less worthy and without value that they should be denied the RIGHT to "effectively defend themselves" with a firearm?

 

Where -- exactly -- in the Second Amendment does it exclude those under 21 years old?

 

 

Dgrr
Dgrr

 @bowtowI`m just curious, when the shit hits the fan and the cops arrive and see you waiving a gun around becasue you`re trying to protect yourself, and then they pump 5 bullets into you becasue they dont know who you are or anything, they just see a dumbass with a gun, how are you going to react then? I`ll bet you`ll be all pissy and miffed, or dead.

 

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

 @bowtow "I have been carrying concealed on Campus legally for 2 years."

 

Why?

 

What are you afraid of?

mark_abald
mark_abald

 @DonkeyHotay

 Ward Churchill  was a plaigarizing, FAKE-ASS  wanna-be Indian.. and the native Americans have disavowed that HUMP years ago.

    If Phil was responsible for  drumming that hack out of his tenured spot, my Respect for him just  rose 10 thousand points, in my eyes.

Monkey
Monkey

 @RobertChase The dictator speaks. The group of people who smoke weed should be left alone, but....The group of people who carry guns should be eliminated. Your opinion of civil rights is amusing. Give the people freedom, but only the freedoms Robert cares about. 

Dgrr
Dgrr

 @DonkeyHotay  @ykelly

 Yeah thats what I want, an 18 year old snotfaced punk being allowed to carry a gun around. I`ll just feel so much safer. You americans....hard to find the right words. Its not that we should deny the kids being safe, its that they are kids and and kids are idiots and guns and idiots dont mix. There should be a age limit for guns, 35 or older.

ykelly
ykelly

 @DonkeyHotay  @ykelly

 I agree with you that students <21 should have the RIGHT to "effectively defend themselves" with a firearm. However, I don't make the decisions about that sort of thing, and the Second Amendment does not make that decision, either. If a citizen of the United States, who is under 21 years of age, can go to war and fignt for this country, then why can't they be trusted  to "effectively defend themselves?"

 

Frankly, those who penned the Second Amendment would have frowned on the age restriction; as you and I do. The state is the deciding factor, so talk with them about the discrepancy, and let me know the results. If you decide to challenge their decision, then please let me know and I will gladly help you out.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

 @Monkey ... and no more than an ounce of freedom at a time ... and only for those over 21 ...

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