For the first time in its history, Calvin College plans to arm several of its campus safety supervisors with handguns this fall. The Grand Rapids, Mich., school is the official college of the Christian Reformed Church.
The college’s Board of Trustees approved a “Use of Force” policy in May, despite some students’ protests against the move.
“It would be nice to pretend we didn’t have to worry about such [dangers]. But we do,” said Bill Corner, the college’s Campus Safety director. “We have received inquiries from parents, employees of the college, and even some students asking how [Campus Safety] would protect them if someone came on campus with the intent of committing a violent act.”
Under the new policy several supervisors will receive police training several times a year and will be equipped with firearms, batons, pepper spray, and handcuffs. Student workers will carry only flashlights and radios, as they have in the past.
“It’s a big step that Campus Safety is making,” said Calvin senior Brooks Wilbraham, who created an online Facebook group opposed to the move. Nearly 300 people quickly joined the group.
But about 100 students joined a Facebook page in favor of the policy. “I was actually really excited when I heard about this policy. I’ll feel much safer,” wrote Mandy Bock, a Calvin College junior.
About 60 students also held a demonstration against the policy at the center of campus in April. The student newspaper, Chimes, reported that others drew chalk figures on sidewalks and hung posters around campus in protest.
The college responded to student concerns by holding a public forum with a panel of faculty and staff to answer questions.