WVU prepares for Campus Carry to take effect on Monday, July 1

MORGANTOWN – Campus Carry takes effect statewide on Monday, July 1. At WVU, Dean of Students Corey Farris talked with the press on Thursday about preparations at Morgantown and the two regional campuses.

“We’re pretty much ready,” he said. “We’ve been communicating since springtime the changes that are coming up.” They’ve been getting the word out to current students, to new ones at orientation, and will have more info to offer when students come back for the fall semester.

The walls are lined with ballistic panels.

“There isn’t one magic way to get everybody the information, so we’ll just do it in multiple different ways,” he said.

Campus Carry comes as a result of the Campus Self Defense Act, passed as SB 10 in 2023, which sets the parameters for people with concealed handgun permits to carry a concealed pistol or revolver on public college and university campuses and includes directives for weapons storage, and exceptions where the schools may still prohibit weapons.

WVU’s Board of Governors adopted a rule implementing SB 10 in April. It applies to WVU, WVU Institute of Technology, and WVU Potomac State College, and covers all university campuses, including HSC Charleston, HSC Martinsburg, School of Nursing Bridgeport Campus, and areas of the campus and buildings under the University’s custodial possession but does not include areas rented, leased, or under an exclusive agreement for the full-time occupancy and use of a private entity.

The rule, in conformity with the law, spells out 12 exceptions where “deadly weapons and dangerous objects” will remain prohibited. They include include sole-occupancy offices if the occupant designates the office as such; events with a capacity of 1,000 or more people at Puskar Stadium, the Coliseum and Clay Theatre; WVU daycares; areas used by WVU Police or other law enforcement; and in on-campus residence halls (except common areas such as lounges, dining areas, and study areas).

Farris fielded a variety of questions about Campus Carry, including how they will manage compliance.

“We believe people will follow the rules and the laws,” he said. Concealed carry means no one is supposed to see someone carrying. “So if we do, we will deal with that, depending on the circumstance. … As long as we educate them, we’re expecting this to go smoothly.”

Several other states have some form of Campus Carry, and Farris said he and his team, WVU Police and members of the Campus Safety Steering Group have been talking with institutions in those states. “

We’re learning from them and have learned best practices from them.”

One of the questions raised in the many hours of debate on the issue in 2023 and in prior years was the potential for an increase in violence. He said that other universities have said they’ve no correlation, no no increase in violent incidents.

Map courtesy of WVU

They told him, he said, that WVU is in its hardest period – interpreting the law and explaining it to the community. Give it a few months to a year and it will be non-issue, they told him.

Concerns were also raised about increased strains on student mental health. Farris said, “It is not a significant issue at this point.” And it hasn’t been an issue across the country. But they will still keep monitoring it here.

The press conversation took place in front of the weapon storage locker in Brooke Tower. Under the Campus Self Defense Act, students and employees may carry their concealed weapons in residential hall common areas and among employees with valid concealed carry permits whose job responsibilities require them to be in residence halls.

The law requires WVU to provide a secure location for the storage of a pistol or revolver in at least two on-campus residence halls on the Morgantown Campus and at least one at the Beckley and Keyser campuses.

The lockers are in Brooke on the Evansdale Campus and Summit Hall Room 107 on the Downtown Campus. Qualifying students may request a storage locker by visiting myhousing.wvu.edu and following the Campus Carry link in the menu at the top. The cost to reserve a locker is $140.

Brooke Tower’s secure room contains 60 lockers situated along one wall. The room is accessed via the student’s key card and the locker via a combination lock. Security cameras keep the room monitored and the walls are lined with ballistic panels to contain an accidental shot.

Farris said that so far, there have been four locker requests for the Morgantown Campus, one at Beckley and none at Keyser.

The lockers are only for students living in the residence halls, per the law. Other people who enter a prohibited area will have to store their gun securely before entering – in their car, for example.

Resident assistants will arrive late July, early August and will go through training with WVU Police and student conduct staff on how to manage CampuCarry in the halls.

A full list of FAQs – frequently asked questions – about Campus Carry can be found at https://safety.wvu.edu/campus-carry/faq.

Preparing for Campus Carry was not inexpensive. As previously reported, the estimated cost was about $1 million across the whole WVU system for initial startup.

The Ruby Hospital campus, with Ruby, Children’s, the POC and Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, are not part of the WVU campus and are subject to the Campus Self Defense Act.

As the school year progresses, Farris said, they will keep their eye on how Campus Carry unfolds. “We will constantly review.” They will make sure they’ve prepared the campus, that they have enough info out, and will share new or different information as needed.

There will be a training module available for students, he said, but there’s been no decision to require it at this point since only those with permits may carry on campus.

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