Guns for students, not for security guards at University of Idaho

School security chief says no plans to hire more security officers or arm them in response to new law


More likely options will rest on individual faculty member decisions, such as challenging or modifying faculty contracts, offering classes online, hanging up signs outside classrooms prohibiting guns or requesting their class be moved to a venue with a capacity of more than 1,000 students, where concealed firearms will still not be allowed, he said.

It is still under question as to just how enforceable these options actually are.

Francesca Sammarruca, president of the UI chapter of the Idaho Federation of Teachers and a UI physics professors, said the UI Faculty Staff Handbook, which faculty and staff must sign each year, says the university will foster an environment that is best for the student well-being.

"To me, as I'm sure many others, that means no guns in the classroom," she said.

The argument the new law will go against the faculty contract, Gier said, is one of the weakest arguments.

"... Not all contracts are legal or enforceable. Agreements which violate public policy or law are sometimes held to be illegal contracts. If a contract is held to be illegal courts will generally refuse to enforce it," Onosko stated in his report to the faculty union.

Another option given in the report was writing into syllabuses that firearms are not allowed or placing signs outside classrooms prohibiting them inside the rooms. Doing so, though, may be in direct violation of the law.

"I can say no cellphones, but apparently I can't say no guns," Sammarruca said. "At this point I still don't know what I will do and whether it will be enforceable."

Two of the more extreme and difficult options given to the faculty union include offering the class online or requesting a classroom in the Kibbie Dome or in the residence halls where firearms will still be prohibited.

"It may be worthwhile to investigate what buildings on campus could arguably fall within these definitions. Faculty could then choose to hold a class in one of those buildings to ensure students with guns are not allowed in," Onosko's report states.

Some faculty, though, such as Rula Awwad-Rafferty, have already made plans to take matters into their own hands.

The UI landscape architecture professor plans to cancel private office hours come the fall semester, an act she does have the right to control.

She says she no longer feels safe in one-on-one settings with others on campus, because after July 1, she will never know who may or may not be armed.

"One-on-one meetings with students are critical and very important," she said. "I would rather not second guess who is or isn't carrying in my class or who comes to my office."

The professor's office is small and cramped, and if a student or fellow faculty member comes in they are immediately between her and the door. There would be nothing to do to be safe if something were to go wrong, she said.

"I'm not going to walk into the fire just because," she said. "You want to have a good relationship, and I'm going to try to keep having it."

Dorschel said an open forum for UI staff and students will be held at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the Commons Crest Room, and a fact sheet regarding the new law is online at www.uidaho.edu/public-safety-and-security.

Samantha Malott can be reached at (208) 883-4639, or by email to smalott@dnews.com.

Copyright 2014 - Moscow-Pullman Daily News, Moscow, Idaho