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Oregon public universities decide not to appeal court decision on firearms on campus

Contact: Di Saunders - Office: 503-725-5714; Cell: 971-219-6869; diane_saunders@ous.edu 

Portland, Oregon, November 8, 2011: After deliberation with legal counsel, members of the State Board of Higher Education and Oregon University System leadership, the OUS has decided not to appeal the Oregon Court of Appeals decision which invalidated OAR 580-022-0045(3), a rule which prohibited firearms and other weapons from campuses. The Court determined that this Oregon Administrative Rule was invalid on September 28, 2011, holding the rule was the type of regulation preempted by the Oregon Legislature.

OUS chancellor George Pernsteiner said, “While we feel strongly that the Court decision is not in the best interests of our students and campus communities, we do not want to go through a long and costly process that may produce the same outcome. Instead, we have started work on internal processes that are already in place or that we can put in place that will maintain a reasonable and satisfactory level of campus safety and security. Our greatest concern is for the safety of our students, faculty, staff, visitors and community, and all of our efforts will be directed at achieving a secure, optimal learning and teaching environment.”

OUS still has the legal authority to control its property and facilities, and to make and enforce internal policies regarding the management of its campuses in order to ensure high safety standards and procedures. Some campuses already have internal conduct codes, policies or contracts in place that prohibit firearms in residence halls, for example, or prohibit carrying of firearms into sports stadiums based on license agreements at the time of ticket sales. These are the types of internal codes and policies that will be expanded so that OUS can reduce the likelihood of firearms on campus to the extent legally possible.

It is still a felony offense in Oregon to carry a firearm in a public building or adjacent grounds unless the holder has a valid concealed weapons permit. OUS campuses have made it clear to community members that they should continue to contact campus public safety if they feel concerned or threatened by the behavior of others within the campus environment.

Oregon University System comprises seven distinguished public universities and one branch campus, reaching more than one million people each year through on-campus classes, statewide public services and lifelong learning. For additional information, go to www.ous.edu