Some students across UNH’s campus were confused as the university police and fire departments responded to a fire alarm at Stoke Hall on Monday, Oct. 3 around 10 p.m. That same night, complaints of clown sightings were also plaguing the university police and fire departments. Students’ confusion stemmed from rumors circulating on Twitter and other social media, claiming that some dorms were on lock-down in response to the reported clowns. Other rumors flew around that Stoke was evacuated as a result of a gas leak. This was all untrue. Residents of Stoke were actually evacuated not because of clowns or a gas leak, but because of a mishap with pepper spray used by an unnamed student in a stairwell of the building.
Though it might be unbeknown to most students, UNH does have a written policy regarding pepper spray. According to the UNH Student Rights, Rules and Responsibilities Handbook, the university is a weapon free campus. It reads, “Weapons include but are not limited to, firearms, simulated firearms, dangerous chemicals, any explosive device, nun chucks, brass knuckles, butterfly knives, paintball, guns/equipment and any other materials that can be used to intimidate, threaten or endanger others, are prohibited on campus.”
Despite not being mentioned explicitly, pepper spray can be considered a dangerous chemical and is ultimately something that can be used to intimidate, threaten or endanger others. However, if used properly, pepper spray could potentially help a student when facing danger.
According to the Office of Community Standards website, under Rule 11a.10, students who violate anything listed in the Room and Board Agreement that isn’t covered under the other subsections of Rule 11, will get a warning for their first offense, and six months disciplinary probation and or educational sanction(s) for their second offense. In the Room and Board Agreement in Section D, article 18d, pepper spray is considered to be one of the prohibited items on campus.
“I never dealt with an incident where a student was caught with pepper spray in their rooms,” Scott Hall Resident Director Jackie Klinger said. She has been a hall director here on campus for several years.
As far as state law prohibitions go, the purchase, ownership and concealment of pepper spray is legal in the state of New Hampshire. Ultimately, pepper spray is deemed a weapon on UNH’s campus, and is therefore not allowed in dorms.