A registered student organization, practicing its first amendment right to protest, has been experiencing resistance from university officials for the content of its message.
The Students for Concealed Carry has been conducting a week-long protest to raise awareness about Central Michigan University’s policy on concealed weapons. The policy restricts students from carrying a concealed firearm at the risk of expulsion.
“We want the student body to be informed and involved in this issue,” said Derren Dettloff, Lake Orion junior and SCC member. “If you don’t have people talking about it, if it isn’t visible, then nothing is going to get done.”
The RSO began advertising for their protest last week with posters and electronic flyers in university buildings. The campaign ran into difficulties with the Education and Human Services Building, where their posters were taken down and their electronic flyer was denied.
EHS officials decided not to display the electronic flyer on the building’s television sets. The flyer lists universities where mass shootings have occurred and emphasizes that all of the locations were “gun-free zones.”
The group believes the action of taking the posters down was motivated by personal opinion, said SCC Vice President Anthony Cilluffo.
In an email to Cilluffo, Director of Technology Operations Michael Reuter said the electronic flyer didn’t run because of the way the poster conveyed its information. He said the tone and phrasing of the poster lacked “a degree of professionalism” and maturity needed when discussing such a controversial topic.
“These are really important conversations,” Reuter said. “By presenting your cause in the wrong way, you risk side-tracking the discourse from the real issue.”
The protest, which ends Friday, is a nationwide event put on by the SCC organization. Participants wear empty holster on their belts throughout the day to show their support for the right of students to carry concealed firearms.
Michigan law allows citizens 21 or older to apply for a Concealed Pistol License, or CPL. The person must have no offenses on their record and they have to take part in mandatory training courses. With the license, they are able to carry a concealed gun in public places with a few exceptions.
The CMU branch of SCC does not believe there is anything inappropriate about the gun-free zone flyer, which comes from the national organization. The purpose, Cilluffo said, was to inform students about the issue of concealed carry on college campuses.
“To me, what is offensive are the tragedies that happened in these places where the people weren’t able to defend themselves,” he said. “When we see this list, we want to make sure that this sort of thing never happens again.”
The RSO also put up paper flyers in several campus buildings on Thursday. The posters in the EHS Building were taken down by faculty because they were posted without following proper procedure. Reuter said they also received multiple complaints about the wording on the flyers.
Unlike some other buildings on campus, EHS requires flyers to be time-stamped before being posted, a model based on the rules at the Bovee University Center. Cilluffo said he was unaware of this requirement when the flyers were posted.
Student Government Association President-elect Charles Mahone said he supports the right of the RSO to organize such a protest. He said SGA would look more closely at the issue if the discussion of concealed carry spread to a large part of the student body.
“If enough students are truly passionate about an issue, we should listen and try to open up a conversation,” Mahone said.