Story by Mike Nolting, WAJR

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — WVU held its first campus conversation Thursday in preparation for the implementation of the Campus Self Defense Act on July 1.

Travis Mollohan

WVU Associate Vice President Travis Mollohan said during the online event the rule, approved last week by the WVU Board of Governors, will apply to all WVU campuses throughout the state. The rule directs the campus community to resources, describes exception areas where weapons or deadly objects are never allowed, and outlines potential actions that can be taken against those who violate the provisions.

“Our campus here in Morgantown, both the Downtown and Evansdale campuses, applies to Beckley and Keyser campuses, as well as our Health Sciences campuses in Charleston, Martinsburg, and Bridgeport,” Mollohan said.

The financial impact on the university is expected to be about $1 million. The BOG has approved the sale of a little more than 4.5 acres near the University Police Department to meet some of that obligation.

“Being mobile (metal detectors), we can move them between facilities; that’s a cost-saving measure. Also, about $500,000 for the storage lockers that are in the process of being built and designed,” Mollohan said.

Corey Farris

WVU Dean of Students Corey Farris said students living in dorms that wish to have concealed carry weapons will have access to secure storage lockers at either Brooke Tower or Summit Hall. Those students who wish to conceal carry will have to pay a fee to be determined for the use of the lockers.

“We will be sending notification emails to our students with housing contracts for next year with information on how they will log in and sign up for a locker,” Farris said.

WVU Deputy Legal Counsel Kevin Cimino said some venues or areas can become temporary exception areas after the measure goes into effect. The rules allow areas hosting a primary, secondary school, or private function to become exceptions for the period of the event when adequate notice is provided. Areas with enough security to ensure weapons and deadly objects “cannot be carried by the public into area” are also included.

“An example of something that fits that category is Fall Fest. It takes place on the field in front of The Towers; it’s not a stadium or arena, so it doesn’t specifically meet the exemption above, but the public entrances fit the definition because they are equipped with electronic equipment and armed personnel,” Cimino said.

Officials are also working on color-coded online maps that help people understand what is campus property, what is not, and where established exception areas are to include “sole occupancy” designations.

“We’ll have a link that will take you to the specific rooms that have been identified and are exempted from the act,” Cimino said. “We’re in the process of fine-tuning that right now, and it will be available in the near future.”

Kevin Cimino

That law, approved by state lawmakers in the 2023 session and signed into law by Gov. Jim Justice, allows a person, with a valid license, to carry a gun concealed on college campuses with some exceptions.

West Virginia becomes one of 10 other states in the country to enact the policy.