State News

NC community colleges move to bar safety threats

Posted January 20, 2011
Updated January 21, 2011

— North Carolina's community college board is moving ahead with a rule allowing schools to refuse admission to students who campus officials consider a threat.

The board voted Friday to give schools in the country's third-largest community college system the ability to bar students who appear to pose an imminent and significant threat.

Community colleges board member Stuart Fountain says the change is an attempt to balance safety with the open-door nature of the two-year schools.

"The individual incident that most triggered all of this a year ago had to do with someone actually threatening an admissions counselor," Fountain said, noting that he didn't remember which campus was involved in the incident.

"That was the type of question that we were getting from our college presidents, saying that, 'Hey, we need some help here," he said.

The state's 58 campuses already have the authority to suspend or expel students to protect others.

Disabilities groups and the American Civil Liberties Union say they will monitor how the policy is applied. They say they worry people with mental and physical disabilities will be hurt.

Community college leaders said that, under the new rules, they would have to provide a detailed reason for rejecting someone considered a safety threat.

The admissions policy must still be cleared by a state rules review board. It is likely to go into effect next year.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • nano Jan 21, 2011

    I just don't know how practical, or fair this will be. There could be someone with a condition (schizophrenia) who's getting meds and is far less of a threat than someone who seems "normal" but who one day completely loses it. I can see giving someone the opportunity to get help, and the school could follow up on that. But as many of you have pointed out, there's no guarantee that someone can't shoot someone else in a parking lot. Maybe the best thing we can do is to be aware of our surroundings and the people in it. Other than that, I don't know what else you can do.

  • mrsmom Jan 21, 2011

    I am glad to hear this. Most colleges require criminal background disclosure when students complete an application. There is no screening of students in the community college system. We now have 14 year olds (Early College High Schools) and day cares on many community college campuses. Those students as well as others and staff members deserve some assurance of a safe environment.

  • Tarheelfan13 Jan 21, 2011

    wwyoud stated: "Did you not read about how many times Jared Loughner had run-ins with community college staff for threatening or disturbing behavior? Colleges have a responsibility to the other students to ensure that those with mental health issues that have a history of disturbances are being treated, or leave. I agree that they should be handled as scientific/medical decisions, not by ignorant admins; however, the colleges are not responsible for the health of individual students who refuse or can't afford treatment, but for the safety of the student body as a whole. Affordable treatment options are an issue for social services to deal with, not the colleges."

    The last thing we need though is kneejerk reaction rules/laws due to the actions of a lunatic in Arizona. Everytime some deranged lunatic does something then liberals use it as an excuse to put more rules on our free society.

  • whatelseisnew Jan 21, 2011

    Other than someone making a threat as mentioned in the story, how are they going to determine whether or not someone is a threat? Sounds like they might be going to do some profiling.

  • umop apisdn Jan 21, 2011

    "Hokiedokie brings up an interesting point; campuses are not gated, guarded environments. What is to stop a non-student with bad intentions from walking in and "shooting up the place"."

    This can actually happen anywhere. That doesn't mean there's no value is reducing risks. If someone has an explosive temper then there's no reason to put them into a classroom with other people who have paid to be there and want to learn.

  • Feisty Redneck Diva - Cowgirl UP Jan 21, 2011

    "They say they worry people with mental and physical disabilities will be hurt." Well, disabilities or not - the safety of the school administration, faculty, staff and other students NEEDS to be the priority. No exceptions, no excuses.

  • fatchanceimwrong Jan 21, 2011

    Cricket at the lake: Being that their identification is often not valid and considering that they are breaking and avoiding our laws, I don't think you can say that they are not a threat. Mexican drug cartels are threatening. Mexican gangs are threatening. Without being able to positively identify them with certainty, there's no way to know that they are not affilliated with these types of groups. They could pop a cap in someone in the parking lot, be gone, and we wouldn't even know who to look for. Plus, if you've not seen the number of them who commit violent crimes, drive drunk and run drugs, you've not been keeping up with the news.

    The fact is, they're criminals and criminals are a threat to the general public. There's no reason to open the colleges to them. Especailly when they take the seat that could go to a legal citizen.

  • nrosie09 Jan 21, 2011

    Hokiedokie brings up an interesting point; campuses are not gated, guarded environments. What is to stop a non-student with bad intentions from walking in and "shooting up the place".

    The community college board is way off base with this one; unfortunately the more wrong something is, the more tightly its proponents will cling to it.

    Keep your eyes on this one, people.

  • RomneyRyan2012 Jan 21, 2011

    This sounds nice but trust me, WTCC is not a secure campus. Anyone could walk in there and start shooting up the place before you could say "Wake Tech."

  • Cricket at the lake Jan 21, 2011

    Are illegal immigrants threatening?