Last Friday, roughly 150 students at Villanova protested the university’s decision to begin arming campus police.
The Catholic university’s president, Rev. Peter M. Donohue, announced in a campus-wide email that “19 officers on the 75-member public safety staff would carry weapons.”
Villanova had commissioned a task force which studied the issue for two years. It “included input from four campus forums, a student survey, and the hiring of an independent consultant.”
But a member of the university’s theology department, the Rev. Allan Fitzgerald, complains that the decision-making process was “rigged,” and that the task force’s conclusions were “kept secret.”
The move to give campus officers guns violates Catholic precepts, said the Rev. Allan Fitzgerald, director of the Augustinian Institute and a member of the theology department.
“Rather than offer the principles of the NRA – more guns, less violence – we need to affirm the Catholic principles of peace and justice,” he said.
“We are outraged by the manner in which the university made this decision,” said Brendan Carchidi, 20, a junior from Holliston, Mass., and a protest organizer.
Kinjal Dave, 20, a junior from Hillsboro, N.J., said all alternatives to make the campus safer had not been exhausted.
Dave read a statement at the protest outlining three goals: “immediate transparency,” “student involvement,” and “the reversal of the decision.”
“What data led to this decision?” asked Maurice Hall, chairman of the communications department. “The university decision doesn’t match up with the assertion this is a safe campus.”
Indeed, Villanova spokesman Jonathan Gust said that the “survey, consultant’s report, and board vote will not be made public.”
Chairman Hall noted that armed officers would “‘fundamentally change the culture’ of the school” and added the #BlackLivesMatter-esque assertion that students of color would be more at risk.
Across the country, 75 percent of four-year colleges with more than 2,500 students have armed campus police.