Though Northwestern University is taking steps to make campus safer from violent individuals with guns, President Obama’s recent executive order will most likely not affect the campus, Northwestern University Police Services Assistant Vice President and Deputy Chief of Police Gloria Graham said.
Obama’s set of executive actions announced last week aim to make it harder for criminals and other dangerous persons to get their hands on a firearm, as well as requiring more federal licenses for gun sellers and background checks for every attempted purchase.
Three sets of jurisdictions apply to Northwestern— University Police, the State of Illinois and the Federal government. Illinois law already helps regulate gun sales and gun possession in the state, Graham said. The concealed-carry law, one of the stricter laws in the country, was signed in 2013 and took effect in 2014.
The law included a number of stipulations, one of which made college campuses exempt from concealed carry and mandated the use of signs on entrances to doors.
When the law was signed into effect, local universities met to discuss interpretations of the law and ensure campuses were safe by discussing how to correctly interpret the law and its applications, Graham said. Every entrance to a building on Northwestern’s campus has a sticker with a picture of a gun and a red prohibition circle around it. Every sticker must be the same size, be prominently displayed and cannot be altered.
After the Illinois law passed, Northwestern administrators and the University Police Department examined the University’s rules and published a document in May titled “Prohibition of Weapons and Concealed Carry of Weapons on Campus,” in which it is made clear that no student, employee or campus guest can possess or store firearms on campus.
Though the legal infrastructure exists to protect campus, if someone wanted to commit a crime on campus, they would be able to do that, Graham said.
Because of this, “it is important to spread the word that safety is a shared responsibility,” Graham said.
The University recently created the Behavioral Consultation Team, made up of Human Resources, Academic Affairs, the director of student conduct, dean of students (Evanston Campus), executive director of CAPS and the chief of police. The team “conducts threat assessments, addresses aberrant, dangerous, or threatening behavior that might impact the safety or well-being of the campus community and provides guidance and best practices for preventing violence and providing support services, according to its website.”
Graham hopes students use this group of professionals as a resource when they are concerned with the behavior of someone they know. A director was hired for this program in the last week, Graham said.
“She will be working with the group to feel out the campus and work with partners in student affairs and look at how we can get the word out,” Graham said.