Two years ago, the Institutions of Higher Learning implemented a comprehensive policy to keep our campuses safe. This policy allows for universities to prohibit guns in specific non-public campus areas. Earlier today, the Mississippi House of Representatives approved House Bill 1083, which, if passed by the Senate and signed into law, would override the IHL policy and our University’s specific policies. It would put our campus community, law enforcement, and first responders at great risk by allowing weapons in sensitive places such as classrooms, hospitals, clinics, and athletic and performance venues.
The International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators and many professional higher education organizations have issued statements opposing legislation like House Bill 1083. Last week the University of Mississippi hosted Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey on our Oxford campus for a series of meetings, and we discussed concerns about the safety and financial risks of allowing guns on university campuses, including potential loss of home sporting events and negative impact upon recruiting. I have attached a letter from Commissioner Sankey outlining several of those risks and the concerns of the SEC.
If this bill were to pass, it would negatively impact the University of Mississippi’s ability to continue to uphold the safety and security for our students, faculty, staff, patients, and visitors on all our campuses — the Oxford campus, our regional campuses, and the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
Our state legislators and leaders must consider the negative implications that House Bill 1083 would have across our university campuses. The University of Mississippi and other institutions of higher learning within our state should be provided the authority to prohibit guns in non-public places on our campuses in order to uphold our educational mission and our responsibility to protect the safety and wellbeing of students, faculty, staff, patients, and visitors.
Our government relations staff will monitor the proposed legislation and continue to voice our institutional concerns.