Students in campus housing at the state’s public colleges and universities will soon be living with the prospect of sharing a residence with armed classmates. The state’s expanded concealed-carry law raises new questions for school leaders and campus communities when it comes to housing.
The law prohibits license holders from storing guns in a dorm room, leaving schools to decide on protocols for handling any storage violations by students. Schools must also decide how to deal with any requests for room changes from students uncomfortable with having a roommate carrying a handgun.
State lawmakers last year greatly expanded concealed carry for those who go through training to receive what’s known in Arkansas as an enhanced license. None have yet been issued — a required exam for firearms instructors could be offered for the first time this month, an Arkansas State Police spokesman said — but enhanced license holders will be allowed to carry handguns in many public facilities that previously had been off-limits.
Public colleges and universities in recent months began publishing information online about the law and holding informational sessions to prepare for concealed carry coming to classrooms, public grounds and campus housing.
While most students in campus housing will be too young to obtain a license, some schools have a significant percentage of older students living on campus.
At Arkansas State University at Jonesboro, more than 30 percent of the school’s 3,050 students in university housing this past fall were 21 or older, according to data provided by the school.
The state requires applicants for a concealed-carry license to be at least 21, with military-related exceptions.
In Jonesboro, two training sessions were held in November for Arkansas State University residential-life employees and students in leadership roles with campus housing, said Brad Phelps, general counsel with the Arkansas State University System.
“I spent the afternoon with them, and we talked through a lot of it, and I was asked some really good, informed questions,” Phelps said.