By Laura Makarewicz
Western Michigan University has experienced a dramatic decline in weapon law violation referrals in the past three years, according to the annual security report. The decline from 20 weapon violations in 2013 to just four such violations in 2015 is likely due to a change in policy that now allows students to carry pepper spray.
In 2013, there were 20 weapon violation referrals on Western’s campus and in 2015, four referrals were issued. This dramatic drop is likely due to a policy change about two years ago that now allows pepper spray; before the change, the toxic chemical spray was deemed a weapon under the policy.
Weapon law violation referrals are for the cases in which a student violates a campus policy, and not a law violation. Western Michigan is a weapon-free school, according to the school weapon policy. An example of a weapon violation on campus would be a student carrying a pocketknife.
A few years ago Western’s campus policy changed; prior to the change, students were not allowed to carry pepper spray on campus. Today students are permitted to carry pepper spray on campus. Jeremy Ynclan said, this maybe a leading cause to the decrease in referrals.
“Eighty percent of weapon violations are happening on campus in the residence halls,” said Jeremy Ynclan, the assistant director of residence life at WMU.
Ynclan said the number changes over the years may be related to the understanding of the law, what is allowed and not allowed. “Things change year to year,” Ynclan said.
When laws change the campus has been more on top of informing hall directors as well as students to lower the number of weapon violations on campus. Ynclan said that they have begun to make posters to educate students on what is and isn’t allowed on Western’s campus.
“We are here to build community and be inclusive, not to be heroes or put ourselves in danger,” said Brandie Rohlfs, a resident assistant in Zimmerman Hall.
RAs go through a five-week seminar prior to beginning their jobs. Rohlfs said they are trained in all policies and how to enforce and document them in the halls. When a student violates a policy, RAs are to call Department of Public Safety and not talk to the student violating the policy, Rohlf said.
Sgt. Andrew Bachmann of the WMU police department said the police are notified when a law is violated. Bachmann said they typically confiscate the weapons.