05 - 25
To: CSU Faculty and Staff
From: President Chris Markwood
Date: May 25, 2017
Re: “Campus Carry” Guidelines
Yesterday, we received direction from the University System of Georgia on how to implement House Bill 280, which is more commonly known as the “campus carry” legislation. This new law, signed by the Governor, will take effect on July 1.
I think the chancellor started his memo perfectly by saying: “I understand that many of you have strong feelings about this bill. Yet, whether you opposed or supported the legislation, it will soon be state law, and I respectfully ask everyone to exercise patience, understanding and respect as we implement it. We all share the same goal of ensuring a safe campus environment. We should work together to implement the law as written and thoughtfully address any complications that may arise.”
Below, and available online, are guidelines on how all University System institutions have been directed to enact this new law. We have already begun disseminating this information, and started collecting some questions and answers that I hope will further clarify these guidelines. Our FAQ is posted at the end of these guidelines. The system office is also putting together FAQs, so if you still have a question that you do not feel is addressed here, please forward your question to either John Lester in my office (JLester@ColumbusState.edu), to our General Counsel Craig Burgess (Burgess_Craig@ColumbusState.edu), or to University Police Chief Mark Lott (Lott_Mark@ColumbusState.edu).
Below are guidelines developed by the Office of Legal Affairs for the implementation of House Bill 280 that must be followed on all University System campuses beginning on July 1.
While current law already allows license-holders to keep weapons secured in motor vehicles, beginning on July 1, House Bill 280 will allow anyone who is properly licensed in the State of Georgia to carry a handgun in a concealed manner on property owned or leased by public colleges and universities, with some exceptions as explained below. It will not allow any other type of gun to be carried around campus; nor will it allow handguns to be carried openly. (House Bill 280 does not apply, however, to institution-sponsored events or excursions away from campus on property not owned or leased by a University System institution.)
The statute defines concealed as “carried in such a fashion that does not actively solicit the attention of others and is not prominently, openly, and intentionally displayed except for purposes of defense of self or others.” A license-holder therefore may carry a handgun while it is substantially (“but not necessarily completely”) covered by an article of clothing he or she is wearing, or contained within a bag (“of a nondescript nature”) he or she is carrying, or in another similar manner that generally keeps it out of the view of others.
There are a number of exceptions to the new law that limit the places on campus where handguns may be carried. Even license-holders may not carry a handgun into the following locations on college/university-owned or leased property:
— Buildings and property used for athletic sporting events. This exception includes stadiums, gymnasiums and similar facilities in which intercollegiate games are staged (but does not extend to so-called “tailgating” areas where fans may congregate outside the gates of the sports facility). It does not extend to student recreation centers and similar facilities that are not used for intercollegiate games.
— Student housing facilities including residence halls and similar buildings where students live such as fraternity and sorority houses. (Note that any housing that is not on property owned or leased by a University System institution is not covered by House Bill 280.)
— Spaces – including any room, continuous collection of rooms or outdoor facility – that are used for preschool or childcare. In order to qualify, preschool and childcare spaces must have controlled access (meaning access via personnel stationed at the door or an electronic mechanism) limited to authorized people.
— Rooms and other spaces during the times when they are being used for classes in which high school students are enrolled, whether through dual enrollment and programs such as Move On When Ready or through college and career academies or other specialized programs such as Early College. License-holders who want to carry handguns to class will need to visit the institution’s registrar or other designated employee, who after verifying their enrollment status will tell them which of their classes, if any, have high school students enrolled. Institutions shall not, however, keep any listing of those who inquire. (Note also that the names of enrolled high school students may not be revealed in accordance with applicable privacy laws.) It is the responsibility of license-holders to seek out this information and make themselves aware of which classrooms fall within this exception.
— Faculty, staff and administrative offices. This exception includes offices and office suites occupied by faculty, staff and administrators but does not include more general public common spaces outside of those areas.
— Rooms during the times when they are being used for disciplinary proceedings of any kind, including those regarding students, faculty or staff. These would include any meetings or hearings that are part of the University System’s or the institution’s sexual misconduct, student conduct, dispute resolution, grievance, appeals or similar processes.
Under the new law, it is a misdemeanor crime for a license-holder to carry a handgun “in a manner or in a building, property, room, or space in violation of” these provisions. Doing so also may be a violation of the institution’s student code of conduct and personnel rules. It will be the responsibility of those license-holders who choose to carry handguns on campus to know the law and to understand where they can go while carrying. Institutions will not provide gun storage facilities or erect signs outside restricted areas.
Each institution will need to review its campus conduct and weapons policies to ensure that they comply with these changes to the law. While House Bill 280 provides for specific exceptions where handguns may not go, it does not give individual institutions discretion to bar or further limit handguns on their campuses. Institutions therefore may not place additional restrictions or prohibitions on the carrying of handguns beyond those contained in the law. Neither should anyone else attempt to interfere with the ability of license-holders to carry concealed handguns on campus.
It is incumbent upon each of us to follow the law. Students, faculty and staff should not attempt themselves to monitor or to enforce compliance with the statute by those who do carry handguns. Only law enforcement personnel, including the University System’s more than 800 POST-certified officers, will be responsible for enforcing the law. If others have concerns or questions, they should contact their campus law enforcement departments. In the coming weeks, the University System Office of Safety and Security will be providing training to campus law enforcement officers.
Our mission remains unchanged before and after July 1. Thank you for all that you do for the University System of Georgia.
Here’s what CSU is doing to make sure this information is disseminated and understood:
— We have disseminated this memo to all members of the Executive Leadership Team, as well as representatives from Staff Council, Faculty Senate, Enrollment Services and University Police. Many questions were asked and clarified (see below). We will continue to meet with individual departments or groups around campus, as requested. Chief Lott has already committed to discussion sessions on this new law during welcome-back week in the fall.
— We are updating the student and employee handbooks.
— We are looking into standard language that can be included in course syllabi.
— We are investigating how to make it easier for students and faculty to find out when a class includes a high school student.
— We are looking into adding the University Police phone number to the back of all employee and student ID cards. That is not because of this law, but because it is always a good idea to have their number handy.
Here some some CSU-specific questions and answers we developed:
Q: So, after July 1, 2017, where on the CSU campus are handguns still prohibited?
A: — The Lumpkin Center
— All residence halls
— All faculty and staff offices
— Rooms where discipline hearings are held
— Classrooms where a high school student is in the class
Q: Where on the CSU campus can I carry a concealed handgun?
A: On any property owned or leased by Columbus State University unless subject to a specific exception under the law, as explained in the above guidelines.
Q: Does the new law allowing the carrying of a concealed handgun include spaces such as our Space Science Center, Cunningham Center and the Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center?
A: Yes – the new law will apply to any property owned or leased by CSU.
Q: Can a faculty member set their own rules about handguns in their classroom?
A: No. This is state law. Failure to follow state law could result in disciplinary procedures.
Q: What if see a handgun in my classroom or on campus?
A: If you see a gun and feel threatened in any way, you should call University Police at 706-507-8911
Q: If I want to carry a handgun into a classroom, how do I know if there is a high school student also in the class?
A: It is the responsibility of the individual to ensure they are not breaking the law. You should call the University Registrar to check if your class contains any high school students. We are looking into a way for students to check that online.
Q: What about spaces such as the cafeteria, where children are present during summer camps – are handguns prohibited there?
A: No, the new law does not provide an exception for spaces merely because children are present. Handguns are not permitted in a preschool and daycare, which are not available at CSU.
Q: What if there is a class going on in the Rec Center that includes a high school student?
A: Then, during the time of that class, in the room where that class is held, a concealed weapon is prohibited.
Q: Does this mean I will see handguns in holsters on people’s hips on campus?
A: No. “Open carry” is still illegal on a college campus. This law applies to handguns that are not prominently, openly, and intentionally displayed.
Q: Will there be signs up around campus saying where guns are allowed and prohibited?
A: No. It is the responsibility of license-holders to seek out this information.
Q: Can faculty members make announcements in their class about whether there is a high school student present?
A: No. Federal privacy laws prevent disclosing that kind of information. The Provost’s office is, however, working on language that can be included course syllabi, and we are also looking for ways to make it more obvious on class rolls so faculty can easily access that information.
Q: Can I now just bring my handgun to campus?
A: The new law goes into effect July 1 and applies to those with legal concealed carry permits. Georgia law requires anyone seeking a state permit to carry a concealed gun to be at least 21 years old. Applicants also must be fingerprinted and pass a background check.
Q: Will CSU provide lockers where I can lock up my gun as I move from someplace where my gun is allowed to another space where it is prohibited?
A: No. Complying with the new law is the responsibility of license-holders.
Q: Can faculty and staff bring handguns to their offices?
A: No. The new law explicitly excludes faculty, staff and administrative offices from places where handguns can be carried.
The USG Legal Affairs Office has provided additional information regarding implementation of HB 280:
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION REGARDING HOUSE BILL 280 Georgia House Bill 280, commonly referred to as the “campus carry” legislation, takes effect as of July 1, 2017. For more information on this new law (which amends O.C.G.A. § 16-11-127.1) and how it will be implemented on University System of Georgia campuses, please read Chancellor Wrigley’s guidance to the USG community, dated May 24, 2017. Below you will find additional information in response to common topics of inquiries that members of the USG community have posed.
First, it is important to reiterate that House Bill 280 establishes that anyone who is licensed to carry a handgun may do so – in a concealed manner only – anywhere on Georgia’s public college and university campuses, except in certain areas that are specifically listed in the law. If an area of campus is not mentioned in one of those exceptions, license-holders may carry guns there. Unlike “campus carry” laws in some other states, HB 280 does not give colleges and universities in Georgia discretion to prohibit handguns on their campuses or to add any additional exceptions to the ability to carry handguns beyond those already contained in the law.
Can license-holders carry concealed handguns in laboratories on campus?
Yes. HB 280 sets out specific excepted areas in which license-holders may not carry handguns, and laboratories are not one of those exceptions. Handguns would only be prohibited in a laboratory if the particular space were to fall within one of the specific exceptions.
Can license-holders carry concealed handguns at summer camps on campus?
Yes. Summer camps are not set out as an exception to the ability to carry concealed handguns on campus in HB 280. Handguns are prohibited, however, in childcare spaces, which include programs for children under 18 years of age that are located within an enclosed space behind a controlled access point (meaning access via personnel stationed at the door or an electronic mechanism) limited to authorized people.
Can license-holders carry concealed handguns in health centers and exam rooms on campus?
Yes. Health centers and their examination rooms are not specifically excepted from the general rule that license-holders may carry concealed handguns on campus. Handguns are only prohibited in those areas of health centers that fall within a specific exception in HB 280, such as faculty, staff and administrative offices.
Are handguns prohibited from athletic sporting event facilities at all times or only during the events?
Handguns are prohibited in buildings or property that are used for intercollegiate games at all times, not just during the events. Similarly, handguns are prohibited throughout the entire facility, not just those specific areas of the facility in which games are played. The same is true of student housing facilities; handguns are prohibited throughout the facilities, not only in the specific areas where students reside.
Does HB 280 apply to off-campus field trips or work trips?
No. HB 280 only applies “in any building or on real property owned by or leased to any public . . . college, or university . . . or other public institution of postsecondary education.” When students, faculty or staff leave campus for school-related activities, they will be governed by the weapons laws that apply to their off-campus locations.
Does HB 280 apply to property owned by USG institutions outside of Georgia?
No. HB 280 only applies within the State of Georgia. People at locations that are owned or leased by USG colleges and universities but lie outside of Georgia will be governed by the applicable local laws of the city, county, state and/or country in which the facilities lie.
Are handguns prohibited wherever enrolled high school students go while on campus?
No. HB 280 only prohibits handguns in rooms and spaces that are being used for classes in which high school students are enrolled. It does not prohibit licenseholders from carrying concealed handguns in other areas where those high school students may go while on campus.
Can faculty members and students other than license-holders ask the registrar whether high school students are enrolled in their classes?
Can faculty members ask students to identify themselves if they are carrying handguns or ask students who carry handguns to take different classes?
No. State law grants license-holders the ability to carry handguns to public college and university classes (except those in which high school students are enrolled), and faculty members may not ask license-holders to reveal that they are carrying concealed handguns or in any way discourage them from doing what they are legally allowed to do.
Are faculty members responsible for announcing to their classes that guns are (or are not) prohibited because high school students are (or are not) enrolled?
No. It is the responsibility of those who choose to carry handguns on campus to make themselves aware of where and when they can do so. They can learn which of their classes include high school students by asking the registrar, as can faculty members and their classmates. In fact, the USG does not recommend that faculty members make announcements in class because it may lead to confusion among students resulting from inconsistencies between different professors and different classes.
May faculty members provide information about HB 280 in their course syllabi?
Yes. Faculty members can provide information by linking to the USG guidance at the usg.edu website.
If USG institutions will not be providing storage lockers, where can licenseholders store their handguns while they go to places on campus where handguns are prohibited?
It is the responsibility of those who choose to carry handguns on campus to make arrangements for the proper and safe storage of those guns. Current law already allows for the securing of guns in parked cars. License-holders can also make arrangements for storage off-campus.
If a student or employee violates the provisions of HB 280, may the institution treat that conduct as a violation of its student code of conduct or personnel rules?
Yes. The immediate situation should be handled by law enforcement, but afterwards the conduct may be treated as a violation of the student code of conduct or the personnel rules. That process should then be handled in the same manner as any other student or employee misconduct case would be handled.