Pepper spray now allowed in UAF dorms

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Photo credit: Molly Putman

In a recent policy change, Residence Life now allows students to possess pepper spray in UAF dorms.

As stated in the revised policy handbook, “Residents are allowed to carry and store pepper spray for personal protection in their residence hall rooms and apartments. Residents possessing pepper spray should be familiar with the instructions for their personal protection device.”

Jamie Abreu, director of Residence Life, assisted in the policy rewrite and was supportive of the change.

“If this makes students feel safer, of course I am happy to be a part of that change,” Abreu said.

This change in policy occurred after a series of complaints from students concerned that they were not able to sufficiently protect themselves in the dorms, according to Laura McCollough, dean of students. Many of these complaints were stated at the chancellors forum held in the Hess Recreation Center Nov. 30.

McCollough felt the change in policy was a good move and exemplified a team effort.

“This is a perfect example of how staff, students and faculty can all work together once the students voiced their concerns about their personal safety and offered a reasonable solution,” McCollough said. “I want to encourage students to voice what works and what doesn’t on campus. I can’t address concerns or make changes without knowing about these issues and the impact it has on our students.”

The decision to change the policy has been met with student support.

“I’m not concerned about pepper spray being allowed in the dorms,” Ben Leach, a senior chemistry student said. “I don’t feel any less safe with it in the hands of others, and I feel more safe with it being a sanctioned option for self defense.”

Leach said while the allowance of pepper spray is now official, he has seen students carrying it prior to the policy change.

“I’m glad that now any repercussions related to an individual using peppers spray won’t be for the tool being used but whether it was justified self defense,” he said.

With hours of sunlight dwindling during most of the school year, students often walk to and from their dorms in the dark.

“I definitely feel safer,” Lydia Arndt, a psychology student, said. “I’m in the symphony so whenever I have to walk home in the dark, you feel vulnerable. It’s nice to have something to protect yourself, so I think the change is a good idea.”

Even students who won’t be utilizing the tool for themselves supported the change.

“I personally won’t carry it but I have no problem with other people carrying it,” Riley Bickford, a sophomore, said. “I think it they feel the need to carry it to feel safer then it’s good they can now.”

The Residence Life policy remains the same for all other weapons or self defense tools which can be found on the Residence Life website.

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