Refuse to be a victim

Nick Roland

I recently opened my email to discover that UT has been declared a tobacco-free campus. While this finger-waving policy will and should generate some controversy, I was most struck by the following statement enclosed in the message: “The institution is enthusiastic about taking another step toward creating the healthiest environment possible for those who work, study and visit here.” Why then does the leadership of this University refuse to allow students to fully exercise their right to self-defense?

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the worst campus shooting in American history. As a graduate of the Virginia Tech Class of 2007, I will never forget the emotions I experienced that day and in the following months upon learning that 32 of my fellow Hokies, including one who lived right down the hall from me, had been killed in their classrooms as they sat in what they assumed was a safe environment. Virginia Tech did not and still does not allow possession of weapons on its campus by students, faculty or staff. I acknowledge that allowing concealed carry on campus would not necessarily have prevented these murders — but why the insistence that students not be allowed to exercise a full range of means to protect themselves from physical violence?

In the event something like this was to happen in my own presence, the University’s current policy requires that I, an Army Infantry Officer with a concealed handgun permit, hide, run away or watch my fellow students be murdered or victimized. This University’s own history, as well as the occasional email alert regarding another mugging, sexual assault or murder on or near campus, stands as a witness to the failure of efforts to stop violence through disarming non-violent young people. I urge my fellow students to refuse to be a victim, support concealed carry on campus and demand their full rights as American citizens.

Nick Roland, History graduate student
Virginia Tech Class of 2007