Pepper spray should be allowed on campus so students can properly defend themselves from potential attackers.

Currently, pepper spray is technically labeled as a weapon under Tennessee law, which defines a deadly weapon as “a firearm or anything manifestly designed, made or adapted for the purpose of inflicting death or serious bodily injury.”

Since pepper spray is designed to inflict temporary blindness on its subject, it would be categorized as inflicting “serious bodily injury.”

According to Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) policy, “possession of firearms or other weapons on institution property is prohibited.” Since APSU falls under the TBR umbrella of schools, carrying pepper spray on campus is prohibited.

Recently, full-time APSU faculty and staff members have been able to conceal carry on campus.

The law, HB 1736, came into effect in June, and allows “Employees of any state college or university operating under the state board of regents or the University of Tennessee board of trustees [to carry a concealed handgun] if the employee is authorized to carry a handgun and carrying the handgun only on property owned, operated or in use by the college or university employing the employee.”

Currently, 27 faculty and staff members are carrying concealed weapons on campus, according to Campus Police. If faculty members can carry guns to protect themselves on campus, why are students not allowed to do the same with pepper spray?

While some may mention faculty and staff members who conceal carry have to go through licensure and training, using pepper spray is not rocket science and it does not have the potential to kill several people at once like guns do.

Pepper spray is nonlethal so its definition as a weapon under state law should change.

Without this change, APSU cannot allow pepper spray on campus. The current APSU student code of conduct specifically mentions “mace and/or pepper spray” as being prohibited on campus.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, the average amount of sexual assault of women on college campuses is between 20 and 25 percent.

With an estimated 1-5 chance of becoming a sexual assault victim, female students, as well as male, should be allowed to protect themselves from the threat of an oncoming attacker.

Although the rates of sexual assault of men are significantly lower (1-71), students regardless of their gender can still be victims of robbery or assault. Campus police are a great resource in combating these crimes, but they still happen.

As an APSU student, walking to your car at night while on campus can be a stressful experience. Each shadow looks like a predator and footsteps become menacing.

Having access to pepper spray will help students be less fearful of becoming another crime statistic.

As students who deserve the right to protect ourselves, we should take a stand and let both the university and the state know that pepper spray should be allowed on campus.

The Student Government Association can send a suggestion to the state legislature to change the status of pepper spray as a weapon.

In the past, SGA has sent recommendations to the legislature regarding guns on campus, the Focus Act and the HOPE scholarship, according to SGA President Ryan Honea.

To speak at an SGA meeting during their allotted time for campus community, students can go to Morgan University Center room 307 at 4 p.m. on Wednesdays.

Faculty and staff members should not be the only people on campus who can protect themselves without the help of campus police. As students of the university, we deserve safety and peace of mind, and being able to protect ourselves is vital to that right.