Boston University students have mixed feelings about allowing pepper spray on their campus, following the Student Government review of BU’s policy in their previous meeting.
Two pepper spray canisters. The Boston University Student Government reviewed BU’s policy that bans pepper spray on campus during their meeting on Monday. CLARE ONG/DFP STAFF
Student Government reviewed the policy in their Nov. 28 meeting, after Ava Remler, a senior in the College of Engineering, proposed an initiative about why they should repeal BU’s policy that bans pepper spray on campus.
“If you’re being attacked by someone, you want to be able to respond immediately. You don’t want to have to wait a little bit to grab this thing that you’ve been hiding and then risk getting persecuted by the administration,” Remler said in the meeting. “This is a very necessary thing.”
Boston University’s current policy prohibits students from carrying mace or pepper spray on campus, including individuals who are licensed to carry it in Massachusetts. Students will face “severe disciplinary consequences,” if they violate this policy, according to the Dean of Students website.
In Massachusetts, one must carry a firearms identification card to possess “self-defense spray.” The state law says that, “A person under 18 years of age who possesses self-defense spray and who does not have a firearms identification card shall be punished by a fine of not more than $300.”
Remler discussed four reasons to support repealing BU’s policy, including Massachusetts state law, other University policies, and marginalized groups and women using pepper spray.
Emily Lampat, a junior in the College of Engineering and a transfer student from the University of Minnesota, said she carried pepper spray at her previous school.
“A certain group of people can be more targeted at night,” she said. “It can help just be like a safety blanket.”
Lampat said she mostly disagrees with BU’s current policy, calling it “extreme.”
“They’re not taking into consideration that they’re not able to have their own security personnel everywhere, all the time,” she said. “(Pepper spray gives) the option for people who would be targeted to have a little bit of self-defense.”
Lampat said there are also dangers to having pepper spray on campus.
“(Pepper spray is like) the dangers of having any kind of self defense,” she said. “It can always be used as an act of aggression instead of just self defense.”
Iris Wu, a sophomore in the College of Communication, said she supports allowing students to carry pepper spray but thinks BU should test out the policy first.
“Standing from the female perspective, I will be like support for bringing that because I think that will be like protection for us,” Wu said. “Maybe the school should allow this to try for some time and see whether it has more negative effects than a positive.”
Izzy Harden, a lab manager at the BU Social Learning Lab, said she supports repealing the ban but understands why BU has the pepper spray policy.
“I can see the basis of the policy and where it’s coming from,” Harden said. “But at the same time … it can be hard for women, especially, to defend themselves and (with) pepper spray you don’t need any kind of strength or anything to use that.”
Tyra Brooks, a graduate student in the College of Communication, believes students should be allowed to have pepper spray, she said.
“It’s a really big campus and it gets kind of dark here in Boston pretty early so even if you do have class around four or five o’clock, which is relatively early, it’s still kind of dark,” Brooks said. “So for safety precautions, I say they should.”