The Surprise at The Board of Trustees and The Resulting Revelation

by Michael Newbern

Sometimes, university officials surprise me.  Sometimes, this surprise is good. This particular surprise taught me that I will have to stay on my toes.

When I found out about the Board of Trustees meeting and that she was presenting on student safety, I was interested. When I saw the agenda, I had to absolutely go. In fact, I felt Buckeyes for Concealed Carry on Campus must attend en masse.

The first two pages of the agenda (http://trustees.osu.edu/assets/files/meeting-materials/02-2012/02-10-12Academic%20Affairs%20FINAL.pdf) past the cover page outlines her presentation to the board on student safety and crime prevention.  When I began reading it, I found nothing out of the ordinary or cause for alarm. But then I got to the bottom of the second page where she was going to take credit for the reduction in crime the University District experienced during the months of November and December. See the table and claim for yourself in the link above.

This claim is wholly unacceptable.

Are the crime reduction initiatives really to credit for the reductions in crime?

  • They were not put into place until after the month of November, so they cannot be credited for November’s reduction.
  • The majority of students living in the University District had left campus by the second week of December, which more likely the cause for the drop in crime. That a criminal robbed an employee at gun point in a university building demonstrates criminals were not deterred.
  • Crime increased from the month of December to January as students returned.

No, they are not to credit for the reduction in crime.

We had to publicly question this claim. We could not let this stand. We had to show the administration that we knew the truth and would not blindly accept lies.

I had less than 24 hours to pull this together. I posted an event on our facebook. I emailed our membership. I also had to formulate a plan of action. We just couldn’t go in there and whine and complain. We must have a solid position rooted in facts and we must be prepared to be questioned on those facts.

We were going to battle!

We sat in the audience, occupying nearly the entire front row and a few seats in other rows. We were easily 1/3 of the audience. Our plan was to pose our question and to walk out should the answer not respond to it and/or not be truthful. TV cameras were rolling. The board was all present. We were going to make a powerful statement.

Mr Kasey, who compiled the data on crime in the University District, started the discussion. Dr Adams-Gaston covered a couple of sections. Mr Kasey started to discuss how crime was indeed trending down since the initiatives were put into place. He even offered January numbers, although they don’t match my own research.

Then the big surprise came. They shocked us all. Mr Kasey said, “I am not claiming victory. We will have to wait until next year to measure the true effectiveness of these initiatives.”

I was personally floored. Not only was I shocked to see that they were not banging their chests, but that they offered some level of honesty. They still hadn’t fully addressed our concerns. There was still some credit being given to the initiatives for reductions in crime they had nothing to with and that could be attributed to other factors.

I questioned them. I asked how they could give any credit to the initiatives this soon. I wanted to know how they could give any credit to the initiatives for a reduction in crime that occurred BEFORE they were put into place.

Mr Kasey and Dr Adams-Gaston reiterated what they said previously on the effectiveness of the programs, not really answering my question. Then Dr Adams-Gaston took the focus off the question by moving the discussion to one on the tools the university was giving the students to take responsibility for their own safety. I immediately shot my hand back up, which was noticed by several members of the board.

After all, we love the idea of taking responsibility for our own safety. That’s what we’ve been asking for! We agree it’s a great solution!

My next question was going to be to ask the board and the university to support our right to conceal carry firearms for our self-defense. Unfortunately, the board was either out of time, there was a one question limit, or they didn’t want to allow me to ask another question. The director ignored me and moved on to the next topic. That is when we walked out.

At first, I thought that the administration didn’t want to let me ask another question since they figured me out. Over the past few months, I have come to the conclusion that the administration had decided to oppose campus concealed carry because they just wanted to control the students. They were going to pander to the fear-mongering anti-gun establishment and deny us the ability to take responsibility for our own safety. I just couldn’t understand what logic they were using to come to their conclusions.

During my day of reflection, it has started to become clear. I thought that Dr Adams-Gaston and President Gee never emailed me back for a meeting for sinister reasons. If they weren’t exposed to facts, they could stand firm in an argument that in absence of supporting evidence campus carry should not be allowed. President Gee, in a breakfast with staff members, pointed to studies that showed allowing campus carry had negative effects and called firearms owners vigilantes. He eluded to the same type of thinking in an interview with Ann Fisher on All Sides (http://beta.wosu.org/allsides/osu-athletics-campus-crime-and-more/). No one had exposed him to the facts. As long as he didn’t see them, he could stand firm in his position that campus concealed carry would do no good.

I do not think President Gee or anyone in the administration lacks intelligence. I could not understand why they would not want to engage anyone in a rational discussion on this topic. I sure have asked.

A presence yesterday has me rethinking that position, the presence of armed police officers and their actions while we were on site. I was on site 40 minutes or so before the meeting on student safety took place. There was another meeting in progress. There were no police officers present.

Once I walked back inside from gathering the rest of the Buckeyes for Concealed Carry on Campus and we walked into the meeting room together, I noticed two armed OSU police officers. I didn’t think anything of it initially. They were there outside the meeting room while the meeting was in progress and outside once again when we walked out.

But then, they followed us. We stood on the sidewalk outside of the building talking to a reporter while those two officers watched from inside the building. They had left their posts outside of the meeting room to watch us through the windows. Once we finished up with the reporter and walked to our cars, they stepped outside.

I thanked them for the job they do. We sincerely believe they do a great job. We just know it’s not enough. I didn’t want those fine officers to think that our desire to concealed carry was a reflection on our opinion of their job performance. They were very appreciative. One officer even said, “Thanks for being cool about it.”

That stuck with me. Why would he say that? Does he think I will be anything but calm and rational? Maybe he was there with his partner because someone else thought we wouldn’t be calm and rational and briefed him to be prepared for the worst. I can just hear the briefing now.

“Those gun nuts are going to be at this meeting. Make sure they don’t try to shoot anybody.”

It has now become clear to me. The officials fear us. They will not allow me into their office because they think I am going to open fire on them. Their vision of firearms owners and carriers is what Hollywood has fed them. They do not see us for what we really are, friendly, generally happy people that do not live in paranoia, but want to be able to take responsibility for ourselves.

We have to show them who we are. We have to show them that we are regular people just like everybody else. We must show them that we are not vigilantes; we do not want to take the law in our own hands. We simply want to be able to defend ours.

I’m calling on each and every one of you to help us. Continue to be the good stewards you are. Continue to passionately engage the opposition rationally with arguments rooted in logic supported by facts and statistics void of emotion.

Help them understand we are not the Hollywood gun people or the crazies the media sometimes portrays us to be.

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