Inquiries by the Iowa Board of Regents into allowing security officers at public universities to carry guns have sparked debates on campuses around Iowa, including Simpson.
Currently, none of the colleges and universities in Iowa allow their officers to be armed. Several schools, including Drake and Morningside, seriously considered providing their officers with guns before ultimately deciding against it.
At Simpson, security officers do not carry anything but a flashlight and a cellular phone.
“We contact the Indianola Police Department whenever there is a criminal matter,” Director of Security Chris Frerichs said.
The current security staff at Simpson is made up of seven adults and seven students. At the beginning of the school year, the staff goes through a four-day training period where they learn about the policies on campus and how to handle different altercations that may arise. They do not receive training on how to use any weapons.
Frerichs does not believe it is necessary for members of the security staff to be armed.
“The Indianola Police Department is located within three blocks of campus and can respond quickly to any accident,” Frerichs said.
Dan Richards, a part-time Simpson security guard who is also a member of the Winterset Police Department, said it would be nice to have some form of weaponry.
“It doesn’t matter what campus you’re on, you’ll have problems,” Richards said. “Those chances are less on small campuses, but problems still arise.”
Richards said he thinks Taser guns would be the best option.
“Right now, we’re trained to stand back and call the police, but not to get involved,” he said. “Taser guns are not deadly weapons. They are designed to immobilize the person without causing injury.”
Sophomore Andrew Doyle agrees with Richards.
“I would feel safer if our security had some protection,” Doyle said. “But I think that there’s not enough of a threat on a small campus for guns.”
Many concerns about campus safety arose after the mass shooting at Virginia Tech in April, where 33 people were killed and 17 were injured. An additional shooting earlier this month at Delaware State concluded with the death of two students.
According to Frerichs, Simpson has not had any threatening security issues in recent years.
“There haven’t been any situations on campus involving students and weapons,” he said.
Junior Whitney Franker said she feels safe at Simpson.
“I don’t worry when I walk around campus,” Franker said. “I don’t think it’s necessary for the security officers to have guns. If it gets worse it’s something to look at, but not now.”
Frerichs understands that people have concerns after what happened after Virginia Tech.
“People everywhere have a heightened sense of concern,” he said. “All institutions have gone through and reviewed their policies on crisis response. I read the entire report on the Virginia Tech shootings and have taken the recommendations into consideration.”