HUNTINGTON/MORGANTOWN, WV (WOWK) — The presidents of Marshall University and West Virginia University have released a joint letter stating they say they do not support Senate Bill 10, better known as the “Campus Self-Defense Act.”

The West Virginia Legislature says the Campus Self-Defense Act will take away the authority of the Higher Education Policy Commission, the Council for Community and Technical College Education, and the institutional boards of governors to regulate or restrict carrying firearms on higher-education campuses.

Marshall President Brad D. Smith and WVU President Gordon Gee say they have concerns about allowing firearms on campus, like mental health challenges, grade discussions, recruitment of new students and faculty, and an open forum for debate.

“We, at West Virginia University and Marshall University, support local control, and we believe that our boards of governors are best suited to decide whether guns should be permitted on campus. We, therefore, do not support statewide campus carry,” Smith and Gee said in the letter.

The letter says there are things they believe should be taken into consideration with this bill, like only allowing concealed carry permit holders to have firearms on campus. Considerations for places firearms should not be allowed include:

  • Venues
  • Daycare facilities
  • Buildings used by law enforcement
  • Places with security measures implemented
  • Disciplinary hearings
  • Places with hazardous or flammable substances
  • Patient care or mental-health counseling
  • K-12 or private entities
  • Places where state or federal law does not allow firearms
  • Offices not open to the public
  • Residence halls, except for common areas

They ask the legislature to not implement the change until July 1, 2024, to give them time to prepare.

Students at Marshall University are sharing mixed feelings on this subject. Some told 13 News they agree with the university presidents, the decision should be made on the local level.

However, there are others, like Brettina Jeffers, who say they feel this decision should be in the hands of the state, but as a collaborative effort with universities.

“It should be a statewide decision in my opinion, just because of the fact that every state’s going to be different. Every state has its own gun laws. In a way, it should be Marshall’s decision, but at the same time, overall, we’re all going to come together with the state, so it’s going to be the state’s call in the end,” Jeffers said Wednesday evening.