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Students gather for 2nd firearms forum

By James Bartolacci

Section: News

February 29, 2008

The second Brandeis gun forum was held last night, after the Firearms Policy Advisory Committee had its first meeting last month. This committee, which is made up of students and staff, discusses the concerns dealing with the implementation of arming Brandeis campus safety officers.

Three Brandeis undergraduate students, Matt Rogers ’08, Fanny Familia ’09, and Student Union President Shreeya Sinha ’09, currently serve on the firearms advisory committee and act as representatives of the Brandeis student body.

At the meeting, many topics were discussed that dealt with students’ concerns surrounding the armed police officers. According to Director of Public Safety Ed Callahan, the Brandeis campus safety officers will not be armed until the arming policy is approved by Callahan himself. Callahan added that only Brandeis public safety officers will be armed, the security guards in the science center and the parking officers will not have firearms, and officers will only be carrying arms while they are on duty.

The Brandeis Public Safety Officers are currently being trained on the proper use of arms and student relations. A major aspect of their training involves diversity, where officers are learning about issues concerning race, sexuality, and gender identity in order to facilitate positive relations between them and students. The committee believes that with proper training, the Brandeis campus safety officers will be able to properly protect students in the event of an emergency.

During the meeting, Brandeis students voiced their opinions and asked questions about issues they feared with having Brandeis officers armed. Questions asked touched on topics such as how often the diversity training will occur, what the training specifically involves, and what the repercussions will be if an officer does not adhere to firearm policies.

These questions gave the students on the advisory board an idea of what students are feeling, and will help them better represent the student body. With the representation that the advisory board will bring, Fanny Familia ‘09 said, “I hope it will bring more of an ease to the students who are concerned with these issues. I just want them to understand that the officers are being armed to better serve and protect our student body. There is a bigger purpose being served.”

The forum’s next meeting will be held March 5. At this meeting, more questions will be heard, and the topics of how police are being trained will be discussed. Also, the Bentley College and Waltham police chiefs will be present at the meeting.

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