GUEST POST: MSU Sending Mixed Messages Over Guns on Campus

by pariahdog

In a recent article in the Montana State University Exponent, Kevin McRae, Deputy Commissioner of Higher Education, has publicly declared the opposition of the Montana University System (MUS) to the passage of Senate Bill 143 (Cary Smith-R) allowing concealed carry of firearms on MUS campuses.

The issue of campus carry legislation is now gaining national significance with Montana as one of the states involved in the debate.

In spite of the stated opposition of the Montana University System (MUS) to Senate Bill 143, there exists the appearance of duplicity on the part of the MUS. This appearance of conflict between words and actions arises from the fact that Montana State University (MSU)-Bozeman will be facilitating the annual fundraising banquet and firearms raffle/auction of the Bridger Mountains Chapter of the Friends of the National Rifle Association (NRA). This event will take place on Saturday, April 4, 2015 in the MSU Strand Union Banquet Hall.

Fifty percent of the proceeds of this fundraising event go to the national NRA Foundation. The NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA), the lobbying arm of the NRA, currently advocates at the State level legislation for concealed carry of firearms on college campuses. This includes actively advocating for passage of Senate Bill 143 in Montana.

Facilitating a fundraiser for an organization actively lobbying for the passage of legislation opposed by the Montana University System sends a conflicting message regarding the MUS position on Senate Bill 143 both to students and the public. This is especially perplexing given that firearms are part of the official 2015 NRA Merchandise Package provided to the local organization for raffle/auction at their annual fundraising banquets.

Not only is the fundraiser being held on an MUS campus, but a select segment of the public is apparently being granted special permission to bring guns to campus for the purpose of raffling/auctioning them for funds that will then be used to support an organization currently advocating for a bill opposed by the MUS that allows concealed carry of guns on campus.

A clear solution to this appearance of duplicity would be to not facilitate NRA fundraising events on the campus of an MUS institution.  Indeed, there are many off-campus venues in the Bozeman area that could host such an event.

The same mixed message was sent by the MUS in 2013 when similar campus carry legislation (House Bill 240) was passed by the Montana Legislature and subsequently vetoed by the Governor.

That year, the same annual Friends of the NRA fundraising event was held in the Strand Union Building at Montana State University in Bozeman.

It is one thing to have open debate about the issue on campus, but quite another to facilitate on campus fundraising efforts by a group clearly working in support of the very campus carry legislation opposed by the MUS.  The words indicate MUS opposition to Senate Bill 143, the actions speak otherwise.



5 Comments on "GUEST POST: MSU Sending Mixed Messages Over Guns on Campus"

  1. Grandma Jeannie | March 31, 2015 6:15 PM at 6:15 PM |

    People, the individual universities have long considered themselves entities unto themselves and do not believe they are part of the MUS. They believe they should operate independently, class credit transfers etc be damned. This is only the latest manifestation.

  2. I, for one, fail to see any duplicity on the part of the MUS concerning the now failed SB 143. They’ve made their position clear, as I’m certain they did to President Cruzado. However, despite Grandma Jeannie’s somewhat veiled compliant, the MUS is not the administration of individual campus entities, nor should it be. The rent of campus facilities is a money generator. If the MUS wishes to dictate the moral virtue of each paying customer, perhaps they could pony up the money to replace the lost revenue from organizations deemed impure to MSU Auxiliary Services? (See what I did there? That’s a Reductio ad Absurdem. Of course the MUS can’t fund a moral crusade, they’d have to pass the bills onto taxpayers or worse, the students.)

    I certainly can’t be the only person reading here who remembers the rather serious financial hit to the economy of Bozeman, to MSU and it’s championship caliber rodeo team when Mike Malone decided to take a ‘moral’ stand against the CNFR’s tobacco sponsors.

  3. Grandma Jeannie | March 31, 2015 6:50 PM at 6:50 PM |

    It seems to me that if you are opposing an NRA bill, and also taking the NRA’s money and using state resources to profit from the NRA as it raises money to pass the very legislation you are opposing, well…. this doesn’t smell too good.

    • MSU is not opposing the bill (reminder, it is now a failed bill). MSU is not a political entity like the MUS is. It is incorrect to comment that MSU is using state resources to take money. They are renting resources, already paid for in part by the people renting it, for money. That is a not so subtle difference. The Strand Union Building is not a church, nor are it’s amenities for rent only to ‘the right sort of people’.

      Don’t get me wrong. On many levels I am no fan at all of the MSU administration. and most certainly not one of the U of M. But I refuse to accept the call for outrage when none is warranted.

  4. MSU is not being hypocritical. The SUB (paid for by students, by the way, not the state) rents meeting space to many organizations. As a public entity, they cannot pick and choose whom to rent to. You can probably find their policies on the MSU website. The (failed) bill concerned CONCEALED weapons. Guns openly brought in for purposes of a raffle are not concealed. In fact, there are policies allowing students to bring hunting rifles to campus and requiring them to be stored securely. So some kinds of guns, in some circumstances are already allowed. Concealed carry is a different issue. I had a 40-year career in higher ed, including work at two campuses where there had been fatal shootings. One thing that happens when there has been a fatal shooting on a campus is that the university can no longer say “we never thought anything like that would happen here.” They are forever liable for anything that could be perceived as not taking the utmost precaution against a repeat incident. The MUS and its institutions already manage firearms responsibly. Concealed carry wouldn’t solve any problems but would certainly cause them.

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