The police department’s announcement has some students feeling safer, but the issue of guns is very sensitive to many in the campus community.
In October, the UO Department of Public Safety officially became the UO Police Department. The university campus has grown and so have the community’s demands.
“The number of buildings and the footprint of the campus just continually growing is really making our safety and security needs more complex,” said Kelly McIver, UOPD spokesperson.
With the UO safety unit now a police force, that means guns will now be provided for officers. The announcement of more security on campus has some students relieved.
“Since they are a police department, I feel like it honestly will just help them do their jobs. It’s a necessary thing for them to protect us,” said UO student Brian Bradley.
Campuses across the country have their own police departments–all armed with guns. The UOPD thinks that it can better serve the needs of a campus community with its own police force rather than solely relying on EPD.
“There’s other specific needs and priorities here on campus that don’t always match up well with what a city is dealing with,” McIver said.
Not all students agree with arming officers.
“I think ‘more guns is not the answer’ is probably the general consensus,” said UO student Trey Hodges.
Students say they’ll feel safer if the campus were to implement more Safe Ride programs and make more emergency call boxes available. But most of all, the students just want to be heard.
“We’re a big presence in this town, this community, this state, and if they’re not going to listen to us we have to wonder what their priorities are,” Hodges said.
The UOPD is kicking off a series of community forums to hear students’ thoughts on the issue. It said they truly want to consider how students feel about guns on campus but that the time has come for the UO to to arm itself.