UF Self-Defense Device Rules Relaxed in Wake of Assaults

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University of Florida students are taking safety into their own hands.

Students are becoming more cautious about their daily routines and surroundings since three assaults occurred on or near UF’s campus over the last couple of weeks.

According to the UF Student Code of Conduct, the possession, use, sale or distribution of weapons, which include stun guns and “any dangerous chemical or biological agent…capable of causing, and used by the offending person to cause, or to threaten physical harm” is prohibited.

There is an exception, though. Students with concealed carry permits may carry simple self-defense stun guns on UF’s campus. No permit will allow for stun guns that have projectiles.

Some administrators feel self-defense weapons alone may not be enough to fend off an attacker, especially since recent assaults happened when the women were approached from behind.

“I don’t see how you’d blow a whistle,” said Jen Day Shaw, UF Dean of Students. “I guess you could try and pepper spray them, but you would have to have it open in your hand, so my recommendation is really to follow the UPD guidelines.”

Shaw believes students should take other precautions to ensure their safety, such as taking advantage of services offered by university groups and the police department.

“I realize now that you shouldn’t compromise with your safety even if you feel like a dork carrying a Taser around,” said Isha, a University of Florida student. “If someone attacks you, it only takes one time.”

While stun guns may be considered a weapon in the Student Code of Conduct, Shaw said she can’t remember a time when a student was in trouble for having or using a stun gun. Every situation brought before her is considered on a case-by-case basis.

UPD recommends students stay alert to their surroundings and avoid walking alone at night.

Some of the services offered to students include the cell phone application TapShield, the student government-run Student Nighttime Auxiliary Patrol (SNAP) and the Walk Safe Student Escort Program.

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