Debate of the issues paramount

NW Staff

This week, Students for Concealed Carry initiated a protest in support of the Carry Concealed Weapons (CCW) legislation that would allow concealed weapons on campus. The protest launched a debate this week over whether students could wear empty holsters around campus, particularly in classrooms. It has really tested the university’s tolerance for contemporary protests. The protest has given difference of opinion a jumping point for discussion.  This school is no stranger to controversial protests, so it’s hardly a surprise that this one was handled with relative sophistication.

No one can deny that permitting guns on campus is a serious legislative decision, so it’s no surprise that voices on the issue are polarized. It’s important that both attitudes are represented and permitted. This week, the debate made its way through e-mails, classroom discussion and Facebook. All across campus, people shared their views with one another on the subject of CCW legislation. This dialogue has shown that the university can be responsible in its debate of controversial issues.

Tom Cory/NW

Allowing such a protest shows that Northern is tolerant of different views, and we’re happy that such expression is allowed. This is a public university and it’s important that healthy debate is encouraged, making it possible for all people to have a voice.

The Empty Holster protest was handled admirably by administration, who did not squelch the idea and alerted students to the possibility of empty holsters on campus. Allowing students to protest in this manner was a sign of good faith from the administration, showing that students are welcome to protest if they feel such an activity is necessary. Protests, generally speaking, are harmless and peaceful. We are an open university. Students should feel free to exercise their First Amendment rights and should be open to discuss a number of opinions. The administration showed that it respected these students’ desires to do so, and we find that noble.

We feel that professors should have the right to request that students remove the empty holsters if professors think it is a distraction to the learning process within a classroom. Students are on this campus for the purpose of an education, and it should be the prerogative of professors to decide the environment in which that is delivered.

However, we hope that the next time there is an issue that students, staff and faculty debate so fervently, it will be opened up for the community to talk about openly. A public forum of some sort would have made it possible for people to hear both sides of the argument in a public way beyond e-mails or slanted Facebook groups. This would have made the debate more open and more public.

This protest was a great chance to open up dialogue among faculty, students and staff on an issue that will affect all of us. We only wish that the discussion could have been brought to an public forum, so that debate could have been widened to include even more people.