LITTLE ROCK — The president of the University of Arkansas System said Tuesday he will recommend to UA trustees this week that all of the system’s 11 campuses opt out of a new law that allows college faculty and staff with permits to carry a concealed handgun on campus.
UA System President Donald R. Bobbitt said “overwhelmingly the consensus of the faculty and staff,” as well as campus law enforcement, is to continue with the current gun-free policy and to opt out of Act 226 of 2013.
“I made (the decision) in collaboration with our chancellors who really have the best view of what is going on on their campuses,” Bobbitt said. “I’m basically conveying the wishes of our chancellors to the board.”
Bobbitt is to make his recommendation to the UA Board of Trustees at its meeting this week at UA-Phillips County Community College in Stuttgart. The board is scheduled to meet there Thursday and Friday.
The Arkansas State University’s Board of Trustees is to consider the issue at its meeting Thursday in Jonesboro. A university spokesman said last week that chancellors at all four system campuses — Jonesboro, Beebe, Mountain Home and Newport — are recommending to opt out of the concealed handgun law.
Five four-year schools have already opted out of the law for the upcoming school year — the University of Central Arkansas, Harding University, Henderson State University, Hendrix College and the University of the Ozarks. Northwest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville and East Arkansas Community College in Forrest City also have decided against participating in the law.
The sponsor, Rep. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville, said last week he was not surprised that higher education institutions were not taking advantage of the new law. He said he expects many, if not most, to reconsider over the next few years.
Under the law, colleges and universities must decide every year on whether they want to participate or opt out of the law.
Gov. Mike Beebe signed the legislation after school officials dropped their opposition when Collins made the provisions optional.
The new law takes effects in August.