Sunday, November 10, 2013

Gonzaga Can Make Whatever Rules It Wants... why would students choose to go to a school that explicitly requires them to forgo a constitutional right?
Two Gonzaga University students could be suspended or even expelled after using a handgun to defend themselves from an intruder in their university-owned apartment, an act which the university says violates the school's weapons policy.

Gonzaga University, a private, four-year university in Spokane, Washington, says the students violated the school's weapons policy by having firearms in their apartment, which is in a complex near the campus...

He added that the pistol that was used in the incident belonged to McIntosh, and was a gift to him from his grandfather several years ago. McIntosh has a state-issued permit to carry a concealed handgun, (students' attorney Dean) Chuang said. In Washington state, gun owners are not required to register their weapons.

In a disciplinary board hearing on Friday, the board, made up of three faculty members and two students, found Fagan and McIntosh guilty of two infractions -- possessing weapons on school grounds and putting others in danger by the use of weapons, according to Chuang.

Chuang told CNN the students expect to hear later this week what disciplinary action will be taken by the board. Fagan and McIntosh both face suspension or expulsion. Both are seniors and have exemplary records, Chuang said...

According to Chuang, one of the students had never lived in campus housing and was unaware of the school's weapons policy. The other, he said, was aware of the policy but didn't think it applied to him because the apartment isn't on campus.
I, also, went to a school that required me to give up, or at least curtail, a couple of constitutional rights.  I knew that going in, and the limited rights of military personnel have been repeatedly upheld by our national courts.

So many times I have students miss a day or two of school because they're doing "college visits"--they think they need to "see" and "feel" a college in order to know if it's a "good fit" for them.  I'll never understand this.  How can a few hours on a campus tell you if it's the "right place" for you to go?  What they should really do is research the school.  Check with FIRE and see if the place is a 1st Amendment hell.  Read the student handbooks and see if there are excessively burdensome requirements.  See if the school has made the news recently--as Gonzaga now has--especially if it has done so by going after students for some reason.  If you're a conservative and are not going to a specifically conservative school, these suggestions count double for you (and I've hit BYU in previous posts as well).  That is how you'll know if a school is a "good fit" for you or not.

A few years ago I had a student who wanted to attend Duke.  After the way the lacrosse students had been treated there I could not, in good conscience, assist a student in getting into that university.  His mother and I discussed it, calmly and rationally, in emails.  Turns out, though, that Duke uses the Common Application, used by plenty of universities across the country.  I did the paperwork for Common App.  He got into Duke and thankfully was not railroaded for perceived misdeeds.  To this day I can't understand why parents would send their child to such a school; are there no other schools equally as good, or better?  

I'm not saying that people should refuse to send their children to Gonzaga.  I'm saying that they, and their children, should consider more than just the look of the campus when making such an important decision.

Update, 11/12/13:  I'm quite sure that it's the bad press, and not any "thoughtful evaluation of complex social issues", that's causing Gonzaga to start reversing course:
Gonzaga University has agreed to review its weapons policy as two students who used a pistol to drive an intruder from their apartment appeal their probation for having guns in their university-owned apartment.

"As a Jesuit institution dedicated to thoughtful evaluation of complex social issues," Gonzaga will use the incident to re-examine its policy, President Thayne McCulloh said in a weekend statement.
Moe evidence that sunlight is the best disinfectant.


Jerry Doctor said...

Am I the only one that would love to see what happens if these two young men announced they were gay? Can't you just hear the charges of homophobia and pleas for the "safety" of a gun-free zone colliding?

maxutils said...

Well, I guess the first reasons would be that they wanted to go, and understood the rules. And, precisely what right have they given up, anyway? The second amendment allows them to own a firearm, not carry it anywhere they want. Maybe there's a difference between 'university owned apartment' and 'dorm' but it can't be much... and, don't you usually side with employers on giving them the right to set their own rules on their own property? Many apartment complexes don't allow pets. At UC Davis, you couldn't have a hot plate or coffee maker in your room ... I'm pretty sure firearms weren't allowed as well. You choose to work at a place which won't let you carry a firearm. I imagine that having a concealed carry permit does not trump that. If it's that important to them to have a weapon, they should live off campus. The excuses of the students are lame; I'm sure each of them had to sign a lease agreement in which all of those things would be listed. If they weren't somehow -- which I absolutely don't believe...they should walk.

I'm with you on first amendment rights, though ... 'hate speech' rules and the like should NOT be supported -- because those ARE a complete repudiation of a guaranteed Constitutional right. But then ... you readily acknowledge that you chose to go to an academy that at the very least abridges your right to free speech ... Why would YOU do that?

As for Duke ... you can have your issues with how the lacrosse players were treated by the University, and it was certainly shoddy, but that one case, fueled by an overzealous prosecutor, should not tarnish an otherwise respected program. That same university supports a basketball coach who regularly finishes nationally ranked while achieving one of the highest graduation rates in the nation's not a Penn State ignoring a known child molester. And ... suppose it were? Why should your disapproval of a school factor in to whether you write a letter of rec for the student? If you want to just write a general one, fine. If you want to say no, fine. But if the student wants to to school there? He shouldn't have to justify it to you. I don't understand why there would have been any dialogue with the parent over this.

Allan Folz said...

IANAL, but I'm reasonably sure one's civil rights can not be negotiated away. The Constitution supersedes all.

Although, yes, the military is a unique special-case.

Anonymous said...

Maxutils: "As for Duke ... you can have your issues with how the lacrosse players were treated by the University, and it was certainly shoddy, but that one case, fueled by an overzealous prosecutor, should not tarnish an otherwise respected program."

The issue with Duke isn't the prosecutor (because the prosecutor isn't a Duke employee). The issue is the "Group of 88" Duke professors and the excitement that surrounded their ad. And the relative lack of adult leadership shown by the university administration (president, et. al.).

What does suck for Duke is that there were folks on campus who were willing to wait for the results of the investigation. Those folks don't get nearly the attention that the Group of 88 does. Calls for rationality usually don't make good TV.

-Mark Roulo

Darren said...

As I said in the title, Gonzaga can do whatever it wants. It can even specifically stop certain speech as it's not a government agency. Why it would *want* to do stupid things, though, I cannot fathom.

maxutils said...

Mark R... I know Duke faculty was ready for a lynching. You can't deny, however, that the DA fueled that. And, not only were the students exonerated, the prosecutor was disbarred. Darren... I disagree with Gonzaga being stupid. I'm not opposed to the idea of having guns on campus... but in what is a basically dorm environment? You are likely to have a roommate you know little about. You are in a high pressure setting where suicides are common. From both a liability and a conscientious standpoint, I think Gonzaga has a good case. The fact that they are willing to review this particular case, and their policy, speaks well of them.