LOGAN, Utah — Should Utah College campuses be gun free zones? That’s what some educators are demanding after a high-profile feminist canceled her speech at Utah State University because of violent threats made against her.
Hundreds of USU faculty members co-signed a letter asking the President of Utah State University to keep guns off campus. President Stan Albrecht said the university has to follow state law, and state law is that anyone with a permit can carry a concealed weapon on college campuses.
“I got an email, a university email, and it is from one of my colleagues, and it is a request to sign the letter, and in that email it was explained why campus needs to be gun free,” says Taira Koybaeva, a Professor of Global Communication at USU about the letter sent to USU President Albrecht.
It says in part, “The cancellation of her talk [referring to Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist who is vocal about women’s sexualization in the gaming industry] provides a clear example of how free speech is threatened because we don’t have a gun free campus.”
It goes on to say, “We urge you to take this opportunity to make our campus gun free, assuring our words remain free.”
About 200 faculty members co-signed the letter. Koybaeva did not.
“I chose not to sign,” she said. “A lot of my colleagues did. I opposed.”
President Albrecht wrote back to the faculty letter, saying in part, “Whatever our personal feelings and preferences, as a campus we are obligated to follow state statute.”
Tim Vitale, Director of Public Relations and Marketing at USU, said a meeting followed the exchange of letters.
“After sending the response to faculty members, they contacted each other and decided to sit down for a face to face meeting, the president met with faculty members,” Vitale said.
While educators like Koybaeva are standing behind Utah’s gun laws, others are not.
“I understand that there must be freedom, but you see gun carriers have freedom too,” she said.
President Albrecht went on to say in his letter to staff, “One of our more immediate concerns is that some legislators have pushed the Second Amendment discussion in Utah to actual open carry on our campuses. This action would have chilling implications for us.”
Koybaeva said the university should follow the state’s lead.
“The campus falls under the same regulations that the state has,” Koybaeva said. “If the state has, if the state mandates that can be concealed weapon carried by authorized users, then I do not see any reason why we should be any different from them.”
USU officials said the faculty and president had a good, honest conversation about what happened and said there will continue to be an open dialogue.