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Education Reporter

College Students, Too, Are Hit with 'Zero Tolerance'
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As writer Glenn Garvin pointed out in an editorial in the Miami Herald (4-21-09), college students face their own version of extreme "zero tolerance" of weapons, when school officials take action against students who merely mention weapons or speak up for the right to bear arms.

At Lone Star College near Houston, Texas, administrators punished members of the Young Conservatives of Texas club for referring to firearms in fliers the club passed out to recruit new members. The fliers poked fun at gun-safety manuals — "No matter how responsible he seems, never give your gun to a monkey." Lone Star administrators seized the fliers and threatened to disband the club. When the students sought legal counsel, administrators told the Young Conservatives' lawyers that any "mention of firearms" causes "interference with the operation of the school or the rights of others" by bringing "fear and concern to students, faculty and staff."

Communications professor Paula Anderson of Central Connecticut State University reported to the police a student who chose the topic of concealed carry for a class presentation. Police brought the student in for questioning. Anderson defended her action in an interview with the school paper, calling the student a "perceived risk" and saying she had a "responsibility to protect the well-being of our students."

Shortly after the Virginia Tech school shooting of 2007, Troy Scheffler, a graduate student at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, wrote an email criticizing Hamline's prohibition on concealed weapons. Scheffler argued that if concealed carry had been permitted at Virginia Tech, someone could have stopped Cho Seung-Hui before he killed 27 students and five faculty members. Hamline administrators suspended Scheffler and ordered him to undergo a "mental health examination."

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which stepped forward to defend Scheffler, wrote to the university, "a psychological evaluation, to be overseen by a Hamline administrator, is one of the most invasive and disturbing intrusions upon Scheffler's individual right to private conscience imaginable. Because Scheffler has shown no proclivity toward violence and has made no threatening comments, this psychological evaluation seeks to assess his political opinions."

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