University group to review pepper spray policy

Central Michigan University will be forming a committee to review CMU's pepper spray policy and will make a recommendation to the policy by the middle of next week.

The committee consists of the Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs Tony Voisin, the Vice President of Finance and Administrative Services David Burdette, CMU Police Chief Bill Yeagely, Associate Vice President of Residences and Auxiliary Services John Fisher and Sexual Aggression Peer Advocates Director Steve Thompson.

The committee hopes to convene by the end of this week and have a recommendation by the middle of next week.

Under current CMU policy, students found in possession of self-defense spray or other devices are subject to suspension and dismissal from CMU.

This directly contradicts state law, which allows for the possession of a variety of self-defense sprays under certain legal parameters.

Burdette said the committee is needed to bring Central's policies in line with CMU practices.

"Clearly students and others are carrying pepper spray on campus ... we sell them at our bookstore," Burdette said. "We have a mixed message."

The committee will also discuss how to best approach the reality of students carrying pepper spray on campus.

"One of the concerns I have heard is that carrying this stuff makes you more vulnerable," Burdette said. "You're attacked and you're fumbling along with your purse ... We're going to have to meet and discuss the best way to approach this. This is why we have invited people from a variety of areas of campus."

Steve Smith, the director of public relations, said the committee is dedicated to finding the best solution for the student body.

"We are now trying to reconcile our current policy with what is realistic for our campus," Smith said.

The issue of pepper spray not being allowed on campus was brought to the spotlight by Student Government Association Senator William Joseph, who brought legislation to the SGA floor that called for the university to amend its weapons policy to allow students to carry pepper spray. The legislation was passed by the SGA house Monday Night, granting it student approval.

The CMU Bookstore, which had been selling pepper spray for several years, Smith said, pulled pepper spray from its shelves after learning it was against the weapons policy. They were not aware of it beforehand.

"The University has removed the Mace products from the Bookstore pending clarification of the policy wording that mentions 'dangerous chemicals' not allowed on campus," said Barry Waters, the director of the CMU Bookstore.


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