University President Calls for Discussion to Only Allow Licensed Law Enforcement Professionals to Have Weapons on Campus
No Student Should Have to Pay For an Education With His or Her Life
FORT LAUDERDALE-DAVIE, Fla. – First of all, I would like to point out that I am neither a registered Republican nor Democrat but registered as “No Party Affiliation” (NPA) or what many call an independent voter. It is, therefore, in that vein that I wish to be heard.
As a concerned university president and grandfather of five school-aged children, I believe weapons should not be allowed on school grounds unless by a licensed law enforcement officer. However, once again our nation is grappling with a horrific incident that occurred on property where individuals were aspiring to achieve their academic dreams through the pursuit of knowledge. And, once again, I am shocked by what I am seeing and hearing about this tragedy.
As the President and Chief Executive Officer of one of the largest private, not-for-profit universities in the United States with nine campuses throughout Florida and Puerto Rico, my staff and I place the highest priority on the safety and security of our students, faculty, staff and visitors on our campuses. We have established excellent working relationships with law enforcement and other first responder agencies. Furthermore, we’ve put emergency plans in place and we continually update and practice the procedures we have to be ready in the event a crisis situation arises. We are one of the safest campuses in the nation and we take security with the utmost seriousness. As such, we have a complete security system with one key integral component: we do not allow any weapons on any of our campuses, unless they are in the possession of a licensed law enforcement officer. Thus, we believe our campuses are safe.
That being said, there is only so much we can do – and as we have seen countless times, tragic incidents continue to occur. As a father, grandfather and someone responsible for tens of thousands of young people following their educational dreams, these incidents rattle me to my core. Every time a school shooting occurs I am saddened, as no student should have to pay for an education with his or her life, and no parent should have to grieve the loss of his or her loved one who they expected to be in the safe confines of an educational institution. Yet, too many innocent people on our K-12, community college, college, and university campuses across the country have paid a terrible price for simply attending class.
In any educational institution, ideas need to be expressed, and innovation needs to be explored and debated in an atmosphere that encourages free and open expression. It all comes under the heading of academic freedom and the free expression of ideas, theories, and philosophies, espoused by previous generations in order to understand and gain knowledge for the future. Many times, these expressions lead to passionate reasoning and emotional discussion by faculty, staff and students – the essence of any educational institution of higher learning.
Some may argue that if faculty or students were allowed to carry weapons, there could be safety in the classroom through the threat of action by those of greater reasoning. This too, is an erroneous assumption and could lead to even greater injury and loss of life by confusion and ambiguity of law enforcement officers by not immediately identifying the real perpetrator.
I am calling on all educators and those who love education to join with me and work with all of those in authority to prohibit any weapons on educational grounds unless they are carried by licensed law enforcement officers. While there are many options open to us, the one option that is not viable is to do nothing and remain silent.
George L. Hanbury II, Ph.D.
Nova Southeastern University
About Nova Southeastern University (NSU): Located in beautiful Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Nova Southeastern University (NSU) is a dynamic research institution dedicated to providing high-quality educational programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and first-professional degree levels. A private, not-for-profit institution with more than 24,000 students, NSU has campuses in Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Miami, Miramar, Orlando, Palm Beach, and Tampa, Florida, as well as San Juan, Puerto Rico, while maintaining a presence online globally. For more than 50 years, NSU has been awarding degrees in a wide range of fields, while fostering groundbreaking research and an impactful commitment to community. Classified as a research university with “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, NSU is 1 of only 37 universities nationwide to also be awarded Carnegie’s Community Engagement Classification, and is also the largest private, not-for-profit institution in the United States that meets the U.S. Department of Education’s criteria as a Hispanic-serving Institution. Please visit www.nova.edu for more information.