An Open Letter to Dr. Michael T. Nietzel, President of Missouri State University.
I respond to your official statement on the subject of our beloved University’s safety procedures.
I am disappointed by the reiteration of Missouri State’s foolish and detrimental policy which prohibits legally carried firearms on our campus. We have seen in Virginia the danger of such discrimination.
As a student of Missouri State University, I have at all times abided by the stated policy in that I have not carried a firearm onto campus. I have followed this policy at risk to my own safety. Despite having been trained in the use of firearms and other tools of defense, I did not carry a firearm while in class. I did not carry a firearm while leaving the library after studying beyond midnight hours. I did not carry a firearm when walking or bicycling between the several blocks from my class halls to my once place of student employment. I did not carry a firearm when bicycle and bus commuting from my home to school, despite the subsequent exposure to drunkards, drug abusers, and attempted sexual abusers when traveling alone downtown in day and in night. I did not carry a firearm when an armed criminal had challenged and threatened multiple students on our campus parking lots.
I have survived physically unscathed. I have no evidence, however, that my survival is due to the security measures of Missouri State University. The security and police forces which I witnessed on campus were all, save a single exception, patrolling parking lots in order to assign tickets for parking violations. In my years at Missouri State, I encountered but one policeman in the campus proper; just one officer on the third floor of Strong Hall, far from the dangers a young woman faces when walking alone, unarmed, in the evening air.
I value my years at Missouri State. They have served as an excellent preparation for my future studies as I pursue academia. I strive to continue the gift of teaching that my professors have displayed. I can but hope and advocate that when I am entrusted with the minds and careers of a future generation of students, that I will not be so dreadfully limited in the protection of their physical safety as Dr. Liviu Librescu was limited in his classroom on Monday. The heroic Dr. Librescu’s only tool for the defense of his students was his seventy-seven year old body, which he used to blockade the door from the gunman while his students escaped through windows. I feel the loss of his life keenly, for I know that many of my mentors at Missouri State would have given their bodies as Dr. Librescu gave his. I mourn and I protest that Missouri State persists in the denial of our esteemed faculty access to their Constitutionally protected tools of defense.
As a student of history and political science, a significant percentage of my classmates are members of the Armed Forces. Many of those students have served overseas. All have had extensive training in the very tools which the Missouri State policy on firearms prohibits. I would be proud to have each of these soldier students sit next to me in a classroom, as equally armed and prepared as I and my fellow civilian students would be were we in an environment which truly valued liberty and protection. For we are the students – the military and the civilian, the honors and the average, the wealthy and the poor – who each day respect the policies of Missouri State as staunchly as we respect the rights of man. Only the very few, those who hold no such respect for society and for human rights, dare to trespass as the weak murderer so trespassed in Virginia Tech. The criminal which threatened our own campus in 2006 blatantly ignored the policy in question when he pursued his ill ends. When the community stands strongly and fervently, each individual acknowledging the other’s right to the pursuit of life and the defense thereof, such weaklings rarely attempt their crimes and ever more rarely succeed.
Therefore, President Nietzel, I respectfully oppose the current policy which restricts the legal carry of firearms and other tools of defense on the campus of Missouri State University.
Lorien D. Johnson
History and Political Science, Senior.
My letter was sent in response to the following emails from the Missouri State University administration.
From: Office of the President
Sent: Tue 4/17/2007 12:19 PM
Subject: University Safety Procedures
Finally, matters of safety and security are everyone’s responsibility at some level – obeying the University’s restriction on having weapons on campus, being vigilant for breaches of security, locking doors to buildings and offices when we leave them for the day, encouraging individuals who may be undergoing stressful periods or experiencing obvious signs of emotional disturbance to seek professional intervention – are just some of the practices that each of us can render in the interests of all us. Please let me know of additional suggestion you might have to improve our capacity for responding to emergency situations on campus as we strive to make our campus as safe and secure as possible.
Michael T. Nietzel
As a follow-up to his earlier message, President Nietzel asked me to emphasize the campus policy regarding the presence of firearms and other weapons. Missouri State University strictly prohibits any firearms, whether concealed or in plain view, from campus, unless specifically approved by the Director of Safety and Transportation. Included in this prohibition is ammunition, as well as weapons of any kind, including explosive weapons. This policy applies to all areas of campus, including parking lots and vehicles.
Thank you for your assistance in abiding by this policy. Should you have any questions or concerns, please contact my office or the Director of Safety and Transportation, Gary Snavely.
Associate Vice President for Administrative and Information Services