University asks students to turn in weapons, hosts ‘Amnesty Hour’
By Michelle Adams, Editor in Chief
At the declaration of vice president for student life, Rhonda VanDyke, Shenandoah University’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) will host an Amnesty Hour today from 5-6 p.m. for students to turn BB guns into the University without penalty.
According to VanDyke, who wrote an email to campus on Thursday evening, “if you are mistakenly in possession of a BB gun – or any other toy gun that might be mistaken for a real gun – you can surrender it to Department of Public Safety (DPS) in the Wilkins Administration Building,” during Amnesty Hour to have it stored for the remainder of the semester. “Those who bring BB guns during the Amnesty Hour will not be charged with a violation to the university’s code of conduct,” she wrote.
This is in response to an altercation that occured on Shenandoah University’s Winchester campus earlier this week in which two students were engaged in a “fist fight,” according to VanDyke, when a third student produced a BB gun. The possession, storage, of usage of this weapon, or any other “firearms, ammunition, projectiles, sharp tools such as knives, axes and hatchets as well as objects designed to cause physical harm and replicas of weapons” on University property is prohibited, according to the University’s weapons policy. When the University is not practicing amnesty hour, failure to adhere to this policy can result in disciplinary action including suspension or expulsion.
The University is not accepting “actual firearms” during Amnesty Hour. Students are encouraged to call DPS prior to bringing in a weapon that may not apply for this amnesty. If a weapon is ineligible, DPS can assist in turning it in to local law enforcement.
“Quite frankly, while toy guns like these may be something you use at home, they have no place on a college campus,” VanDyke wrote in her email. “From a distance, it is impossible to make the necessary distinction between a college student at play and an active shooter on campus. This doesn’t just extend to law enforcement, as there are also regular citizens who are armed and may respond to a situation in which they feel threatened.”