The Salt Lake Tribune has an article on the State Attorney General's appeal of the earlier ruling on the U of U gun ban.
I find it interesting that the SL Trib only quoted half of that section. I sent the following letter to the editor:U. links gun ban, academic freedom
Before high court: The state says there is no such autonomy on campus
By Shinika A. Sykes
The Salt Lake Tribune
Attorneys for the University of Utah are misinterpreting state statutes when they argue the U. has a right to ban guns on campus.
That was the state's principal argument Monday before the Utah Supreme Court as Deputy Attorney General Brent Burnett argued its appeal of a 3rd District Court ruling last year that allowed the Salt Lake City-based university to keep the 28-year campus gun ban intact.
U. Attorney Alan Sullivan countered that Article X, Section 4 of Utah's Constitution allows the U.'s administration to make such rules because it protects academic freedom, which is vital to the pursuit of higher education.
"The U. has been a constitutional entity since 1896," said Sullivan, adding that such freedom is an inherent right of universities and it cannot be dictated by the Legislature.
"We believe the U. firearm [ban] is an academic policy. If guns are allowed on campus, debate would suffer," said Sullivan.
Burnett suggests a different approach.
Utah laws make it clear the state Constitution does not grant autonomy to the university, he told the five Supreme Court justices.
"Does the university have a right to ignore state law? Can it just decide which laws it wants to follow and which ones are contrary to [its] view of educational policies?" Burnett asked.
What the Constitution says
The University of Utah contends that Article X, Section 4 of the Utah Constitution "protects the university's autonomy on academic matters."
The state argues that the U. is misreading the section. According to documents filed by the U., the section reads, in part:
"All rights, immunities, franchises and endowments originally established or recognized by the constitution for any public university or college are confirmed." This provision of the constitution confirmed earlier territorial laws, which said the "government of the university and the management of its property and affairs is vested in a board of nine regents."
Once again, the Salt Lake Tribune reveals a bias in the article U. links gun ban, academic freedom by Shinika A. Sykes. How convenient was it that the article quoted only half of Article X, Section 4 of the Utah Constitution. Notice that the first half of that same section states that control and supervision of higher education is provided by statute. Here's the section in full:
Article X, Section 4. [Control of higher education system by statute -- Rights and immunities confirmed.]
The general control and supervision of the higher education system shall be provided for by statute. All rights, immunities, franchises, and endowments originally established or recognized by the constitution for any public university or college are confirmed.