Are Students Allowed to Carry Self-Defense Weapons on Campus?


Self-defense weapons have been gaining popularity recently. As new devices are becoming available, women and girls all over the world are purchasing self-defense keychains. These keychains can carry items such as pepper spray, window breakers, tasers, etc. 


Being a female, especially in this modern time, is scary. On average, men are stronger and faster, which can make it difficult for a woman to escape if a man were to attack her. This of course does not only pertain to women, but statistically women are the more frequent target. In a study done by the U.S. Department of Justice, approximately 1 million women reported to have been stalked in their lifetime, and 1.9 million reported physical assault. This contributes to why many women feel it is necessary to keep some kind of protection on them at all times. 


Over the seven years that Chief Security Officer Cathe Kent has worked here, there have been no instances where a student has been physically attacked reported to her.


 “I know there have been a few incidents where kids felt uneasy, awkward, or have mentioned that there was a person that made them feel uncomfortable,” Ms. Kent said. “But they knew what to do and avoided the situation, but still came to tell me.”


While there have only been few, if any, incidents on campus, some students still only feel safe if they are crying pepper spray or mace. The Student Handbook says that students are allowed to carry these devices for the purpose of self-defense.  Page 24 paragraph L of Student handbook.


“I have taught self-defense in the holistic health class and we did it for our Jesuit day of Justice,” Ms. Kent said. “We talked to the girls about carrying mace and pepper spray, and we have stated that if you are going to carry or use mace or pepper spray, know how you are going to use it and be comfortable using it.”


Pepper spray can be a very useful tool in removing oneself from a bad situation. More than anything, pepper spray is used to buy time. When shot into the eye it can cause pain, redness, difficulty in opening the eye, and sensitivity to light. When directed towards the skin, pepper spray can cause pain, redness, swelling, and itching. Pepper spray will not cause lasting damage, but it should give a person enough time to remove oneself from the situation, or get help.


“It makes me feel safe,” senior Grace Taylor explained. “I use pepper spray because it would be dumb of me to have no defense when I walk to my car from work, or really in any situation where I am outside alone. It is the one thing I carry with me all the time besides, my phone is my keys, so it provides me with at least a little ease of mind knowing I could defend myself against someone.”


While pepper spray is a great self-defense weapon, it is to be used for just that. While on campus, if pepper spray is to be used to incite any type of fear or intimidation, students will no longer be able to carry it on their person. Students are not allowed to carry knives of any kind, tasers, or any weapon capable of causing serious physical injuries or to intimidate.


“If you carry it on your keychain here at school, the vice principals have decided that that is permissible since you are using it for self-defense,” Ms. Kent explained. “Obviously, you are never allowed to use it to intimidate, cause fear, or bully anyone with it. So that is the correlation between self-defense and carrying weapons.”


To students who feel safer carrying pepper spray, carrying it on campus is now allowed but to be used only when necessary. That being said, students should make sure they know how to and are comfortable using it before they find themselves in a situation where it is needed. If students are not comfortable using it yet, find someone who can help with use and familiarity. Stay safe everyone.