North Adams Transcript
NORTH ADAMS -- Students and faculty at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts have voted against arming officers with the college’s campus police.
In a 308 to 147 vote organized by the student government association and taking place over Tuesday and Wednesday, students opposed letting campus police officers carry guns, according to the college’s student newspaper, The Beacon.
The Executive Committee of the Faculty Association also held two separate votes about arming campus police.
Daniel "Dana" Rapp, president of the Faculty Association, said Thursday the votes were taken to gauge faculty opinions, and the association hasn’t taken a position on the matter.
"We sought opinions in two ways: One, by asking department chairs to conduct informal votes several weeks ago, and two, by asking faculty last week to provide a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ email response. Obviously many faculty voted in both polls," he said.
A total of 55 faculty members offered opinions to department chairs, with 51 voting against arming campus police and 4 voting in favor, he said.
Sixty-eight faculty members participated in the email poll, with 59 answering "no" to the issue, and 9 answering "yes," he said.
There are about 190 full-time and part-time faculty at MCLA, he said.
James Stakenas, vice president of administration and finance at MCLA, said the administration sees
"The expressed interest of the trustees is to look at all the information before making a decision," he said.
The board of trustees will meet Thursday, Dec. 15 to discuss arming campus police officers, and Stakenas’ understanding is there won’t be a vote, he said. The trustees and MCLA President Mary Grant have the final say in the issue.
The college is still in the question and answer -- and gathering information -- phase, he said.
"There have been numerous open meetings on campus, and we had these votes take place. We have had folks commenting since the semester began," he said.
Conversations about arming MCLA police officers have been ongoing since 2008, when a study about violence on state campuses was conducted by state officials, said Joseph Charron, director of public safety, campus police and emergency planning and response at MCLA, in a May 4 Transcript article.
One of the recommendations in the study stated that "sworn" campus safety officers should be armed and trained in the use of personal and specialized firearms, he said.
Members of MCLA’s police force have been sworn in as special state police officers, and they have the same authority and duty to act as State Police troopers.