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PASSHE considers banning weapons in 'sensitive areas' on campuses

A proposal to prohibit possession of “deadly or offensive weapons” in “sensitive areas” on campus will likely come up at its next board meeting, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education said today.

The areas include residence halls, student union buildings, cafeterias and other indoor and outdoor venues where large numbers of people gather, including sports stadiums. The meeting is scheduled for Jan. 22 and 23.

PASSHE oversees Pennsylvania’s 14 state-owned universities, including Millersville University in Lancaster County and Shippensburg University in Cumberland County. Before 2012, PASSHE said, individual university weapons policies varied in scope, format, and to whom they applied — students, staff or visitors.

Then, between April 2012 and April 2013, eight of the universities developed new policies related to the possession of weapons on campus. Those policies closely mirror the policy under consideration by the board, PASSHE said, noting that those campuses have not experienced any related changes in crime trends since implementing the new policies.

In April 2013, PASSHE said, the chairman of the board established the Public Safety and Security Task Force to review all aspects of university public safety operations. The task force includes individuals from within PASSHE as well as outside experts, including representation from the board; university councils of trustees; university presidents, students and faculty; local government; and external law enforcement, among others.

PASSHE said that, according to data developed by the Pennsylvania State Police, the university campuses are “extraordinarily safe places, experiencing 70 percent fewer serious crimes” than the state average, and that in some areas, crime rates on PASSHE campuses are one-tenth that of the overall region.

“Of particular importance, crimes involving the use of weapons, including firearms, are among the lowest of all incidents reported,” PASSHE said. “The Board of Governor of the State System is committed to doing everything possible to continue to provide this safe and secure learning environment.”

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