ANC board votes to keep guns off campus

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Arkansas Northeastern College joins a growing list of higher-education institutions across the state that are opting out of the Act 226 concealed carry law. This decision, however, may not completely rid the campus of firearms -- particularly in student or staff vehicles.

Wednesday the ANC board of trustees voted against participating in Act 226, which allows trained and licensed staff and faculty to carry a concealed handgun on a university, college or community college campus. Jim Shemwell, the college's president, said the act does allow for local governing boards of any institution to adopt its own policies. ANC joins a number of schools across the state that have opted out of participation in the act, including University of Arkansas and Arkansas State University -- the state's two largest schools.

The school's new firearm policy, which was voted on unanimously by both the Administrative Affairs Committee and the board of trustees, does allow certified law enforcement officer -- be they students, employees or guests -- to carry a concealed weapon on any ANC campus. In addition, the new policy does not address firearms that are "stored and secured" in someone's vehicle.

"We have no on-campus housing, so by definition everyone who attends classes at ANC or works at ANC commutes. Two-thirds of our students are females, the majority of our employees are females, and it's very likely that many of those individuals -- perhaps males as well -- would not feel comfortable commuting if they did not have a means of protection in their vehicle," said Shemwell.

During Wednesday's meeting the board also looked at, and approved, a new travel stipend for students enrolled in certain certificate programs. The new stipends come on the heels of reduced funding and eligibility changes from state administrators for the Career Pathways Initiative. The CPI program, which has been very successful for the school, will now be utilizing the ANC Foundation's Trimue farm revenues scholarship fund.

"The goal is to break down barriers for students and help promote intensive, one-on-one counseling to increase success of at-risk students and to incentivize certificate programs with local job demand," Shemwell said.

The program will have a limited number of gas vouchers that will be given out to students on a first-come, first-served basis. Technical certificate programs eligible for the stipend this fall are HVAC, Automotive Service Technician, Dental Assisting, Aviation Maintenance and Welding. Certificate of proficiency program eligible are Child Development Associate, Clerical Support, Emergency Medical Technician, General Industry and Patient Care Technology.

In other news, the board approved a partial tuition waiver for concurrent, online enrollment for high school students. The school may also begin implementing a program introduced by ASU that would synchronize online college courses with high school advanced placement courses being taught live. College and high school faculty would work together to align courses and assignments.

Tuition for classes taught in this manner would be paid for by the student, the school or a combination of both, depending on the policy approved by the school district, which Shemwell said would allow local school board members to work out the best policy for their district.

Other items discussed included:

-- Construction project updates

-- Carl Perkins Grant funding acceptance

-- An Annual Report of Institutional Effectiveness

-- Approval go the school's Strategic Plan

-- Merit based bonuses for employees

-- Enrollment for the Summer 1 semester