BY PHILIP P. DISTEFANO
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.