College students are taking the lead to protect themselves on campus
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Umpqua Community College, nine killed. Oikos University, seven killed. Northern Illinois University, five killed. Virginia Tech, 32 killed.

In a period of fewer than 10 years, more than 50 college students were killed on campus. With appalling numbers such as these, we must ask ourselves, what is being done to prevent future catastrophes?


This September, a new non-profit organization known as the Second Amendment Institute (SAI) re-launched a national college organization known as Students for Self-Defense. Our program is the only national student organization that pushes for reformed self-defense policies on college campuses. The mission of Students for Self-Defense is to organize college students and equip them with the tools and rhetoric they need in order to change university policies that restrict their right to self-defense on campus.

In the short six weeks that SAI has been organizing chapters of Students for Self-Defense, there have been more than 10 chapters started which have resulted in over 300 new students involved with the organization. Today, Students for Self-Defense includes more than 500 students across the entire country, ranging from barren plains of Arizona to the inner cities of Northern New Jersey.

Universities such as Rowan and Rutgers in New Jersey impose heavy regulations on pepper spray for students on campus. These restrictions include the amount of pepper spray allowed in one jar, where it can be kept, and the chemical grade. According to campus safety at Rutgers University, there are "designated areas" for pepper spray use and students must "keep the pepper spray in their backpack".

Madison Hooker, president of the Students for Self-Defense chapter at Rutgers University, finds these policies to be appalling. She told me:

"Rutgers students see Crime Alert emails at least once a week, they read about armed robberies in the streets, stores, and in homes. The perpetrators often go unknown, leaving the victim helpless in bringing them to justice.

"The pepper spray ban puts students in a dangerous situation where they are already susceptible to being robbed because, now, they have no way to protect themselves in the simplest way.”

Madison is a strong supporter and believer of Students for Self-Defense, hence why she has taken on the responsibility of leading the chapter and promising real change to the University policy. Madison also believes that "This program is unique because it is the only club on campus that fights for student self protection rights."

At Rowan University, students are also restricted to keeping pepper spray in their backpack. With this policy, students are better off not carrying pepper spray at all because their assailant will not stop for the student to take out their pepper spray.

Grace Callahan, a junior at Rowan University, echoed Madison: "You always have to expect the unexpected; Students for Self-Defense ensures that students can do just that". Grace and the rest of the members of Students for Self-Defense at Rowan University will be addressing the pepper spray restrictions in the coming months.

West Chester University of Pennsylvania is a completely different beast because this university completely bans pepper spray on campus.

Last week, the Second Amendment Institute recruited over 100 students for the West Chester University chapter of Students for Self-Defense. Passing students were asked, "Are you allowed to carry pepper spray on campus?" Most would respond with "yes" and to their surprise, were incorrect.

Suzanne Cruz, a retired police officer from California, strongly believes that students have the right to effective means of self-defense on college campuses. "Crime can happen to anyone at any time.” This is why Suzanne helped recruit for this chapter of Students for Self-Defense. She also wanted students to realize how vulnerable university policy makes them. She wants parents to know that their sons and daughters can be anything they want, including safe.

The Second Amendment Institute will continue to launch new chapters of Students for Self-Defense across the country. Being a nonprofit surrounding the Second Amendment, the question arises, Is it all about guns The answer to this is no. Students for Self-Defense is a project of SAI, meaning that it operates within itself, with the help of SAI. Each chapter of Students for Self-Defense retains its autonomy, meaning that it can choose which university policies to address, without instruction from SAI.

The Second Amendment Institute has a long road ahead in regards to organizing more chapters of Students for Self-Defense.

Once we help equip students with the tools and rhetoric they need to change policies that restrict their right to self-defense on campus, they can help put a stop to campus killings. With the help of Students for Self-Defense, we will finally see an end to these catastrophes and a new feeling will emerge on college campuses — students can feel safe because they know they are prepared and feel comfortable with their tools of self-defense.

Yzaguirre is the president of Students for Self-Defense. For more information on the Second Amendment Institute or Students for Self-Defense, please email

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.