University of Colorado Chancellor Phil DiStefano notified told his faculty that professors “do not have the right to shut down a class or refuse to teach” should they learn that one of their students is lawfully carrying a gun under a concealed-carry permit. The message came after Physics Prof. Jerry Peterson, chairman of the Boulder Faculty Assembly, told the Boulder Daily Camera that, under his “personal policy,” he plans to cancel class if he ever learns any of his students are carrying firearms.
A Colorado Supreme Court ruling this spring overturned CU’s Boulder campus gun ban, and university officials say that students with conceal-carry permits are allowed to bring guns into classrooms and labs. “I have the utmost respect for Professor Peterson, who is an old friend and valued colleague, but I want to make clear that if the student carrying the weapon has a concealed-carry permit, the position implied by Professor Peterson’s comments directly violates Colorado law and the operating principles of the campus,” DiStefano said in an e-mail to faculty. Peterson stood by his policy and said he simply wants his students to feel safe to engage in discussions that could become controversial. He said the presence of guns in his classroom “would destroy the learning environment.”