Facts about gun incident surface during meeting

Bobby Shipman

President Linda Bennett spoke to the Faculty Senate Friday to clarify “misinformation” about the Feb. 18 incident in which a distance education student brought a handgun onto campus.

A previous report by The Shield stated that the woman had the handgun in a holster.

But mathematics professor Kathy Rodgers, who discovered the handgun, said the handgun was actually located inside a “little grey bag” with a zipper the woman had attached to her waiste.

“If she had been sitting in my classroom, I would not have been able to ask her what was in it,” Rodgers said to the Senate.

The girl was headed into a conference room because there had been an arrangement for her to take a test at a special time, Rodgers said.

“When they do that, I get their book bag, hopefully their cheat notes,” she said.

She told the student she needed to know what was is in the grey bag that was still attached to her, she said.

“She first told me it was candy,” Rodgers said.

She said the woman responded, “You’re not going to want to see it,” then whispered to Rodgers that it was a gun and offered to reveal her permit.

Rodgers said she called 911 and Public Safety immediately.

“This student, I don’t think, knew the policy,” Rodgers said. “But she sensed there was something not right about it.”

Bennett said she commends Rodgers for the manner in which she handled the situation – calm.

“Very quickly, this was a situation wherein the moment that Public Safety arrived and the moment the student was asked for the weapon, she relinquished it,” Bennett said.

No RAVE Alert was sent out because there was no threatening behavior and because the girl expressed no intent to use the weapon, she said.

There was a clear procedure that was followed and was handled correctly by Public Safety, she said.

“I think Public Safety does a very good job in collaboration with the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office,” Bennett said.

Director of Public Safety Stephen Woodall said the incident was not the first time a weapon has been seized on USI property.

There was an incident where a student, who was a hunter, had a bow and arrow in his apartment and was unaware of the policy, Woodall said.

A similar incident occurred, he added, involving a student with a shotgun, who was also a hunter and was also not aware of the policy.

Bennett said that the university continues to look for ways to enhance emergency preparedness and look into any revision of policy that is necessary.

“I am not supportive of increasing the number of weapons on campus,” Bennett said. “But I will certainly listen to any proposals that come forward.”