By Morgan Allison || This month StateUniversity.com released a report ranking the top 450 colleges according to campus safety. According to the website, the study accounts for both the frequency and severity of crime on campus.
Those of us residing in Due West, S.C. are proud to say the Palmetto State is home to the fifth-safest college in America, Erskine College and Seminary. And while there’s no such thing as a crime-free campus, our beloved college comes close; according to the study’s statistics our only source of danger is the occasional theft.
While Erskine’s safety ranking (up from No. 7 a year ago) is certainly something to be proud of (and thankful for), we should all take heed to the continuing national gun debate. The future safety of our college campuses may depend on it.
This past Tuesday, in the aftermath of a shooting at a Texas college, the ongoing discussion about the issue of concealed weapons on university campuses has been rekindled.
Only a week before the shooting, a State Senator in Texas filed legislation allowing concealed handguns on the Lonestar State’s college campuses. The bill would allow faculty, other staff, and students with concealed handgun licenses to carry firearms for protection. The bill also includes a measure that would prevent individual colleges and universities from dodging the law by enacting administrative bans and/or penalties on employees or students lawfully carrying guns.
The incident in Texas – along with a few other campus shootings this month – has students and college employees divided.
In addition to Texas six states have introduced legislation allowing concealed handguns on campus this month – Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Wyoming. If legislation passes, they will join five other states – Colorado, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah, and Wisconsin – that already allow guns on campuses in varying degrees.
And by virtue of this article being posted on South Carolina’s most widely read political site, expect this state’s ban on handgun possession on college campuses to be revisited.
Some believe allowing guns on campuses will only increase violence considering popular density and the idea that college students already engage in risky behaviors like drug use and binge drinking. Others believe prohibiting concealed handguns at colleges leaves its employees and students vulnerable – an argument gaining favorability in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy.
For now, those of us in Due West will cherish our crime-free (and gun-free) campus … and hope it remains this way in the future.
Morgan Allison is a student reporter at Erskine College. Follow her on Twitter @m_allison6.