BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — A photo circulating on social media Tuesday showed two men carrying guns on Bowling Green State University's campus. The men were protesting the arrest of another man with a gun on campus that took place Sunday.
"It was just disgusting that we got no word from the university for over an hour and a half, we counted," BGSU student Maya Elias said.
Elias said she feels the university took too long spreading the word. BGSU acknowledged the incident in a tweet after the individuals had already left campus.
During Sunday's incident, students were warned to shelter in place while a man was seen with a gun on campus. Authorities arrested the man and charged him with inducing panic.
Elias is also upset because the university's tweet said "today's activity is not unlawful." Elias said that while there are no federal or state statues against open carry without a permit, BGSU has a policy.
BGSU's Policy on Firearms, Deadly Weapons, and Dangerous Ordinance, reads that with some exceptions, including police and ROTC, "no person shall possess, store or use a firearm, deadly weapon or dangerous ordinance as defined in the Ohio Revised Code, in and/or on university owned, rented and/or sponsored property except where specifically permitted."
"It specifically prohibits the possession of firearms on campus. You cannot have one concealed obviously, you cannot walk around with one in your hand," Elias said.
However, late Tuesday night, BGSU President Rodney Rogers sent an email to students, which was obtained by WTOL 11. In the email, Rogers clarifies how the activity was not unlawful.
"In response to Sunday's incident, two individuals came onto campus this afternoon, openly carrying firearms to demonstrate their rights under state law, which supersedes BGSU policies. They gave BGSU Police advance notification of their activity late this morning. While concealing a firearm on campus is a violation of our policy and Ohio Revised Code, today's activity involving open carry is not unlawful. BGSU Police monitored their activity while on campus to ensure there was no physical threat, and our officers engaged both individuals in a conversation and understanding of the law," the email read.
Rogers encouraged petitioning legislative officials. "For those who want to see change about open carry at state universities, contact your Ohio state representative or state senator and make your voice heard." He added that physical safety was never compromised and BGSU police responded to Tuesday's incident, but expressed regret at not notifying the campus community beforehand.
BGSU student Aarian Lynn feels her safety was threatened. "We don't know what their intentions really were. Was it just a protest or second amendment rights? Did they have an ulterior motive? Anything could change within seconds," said Lynn.
She, along with other students, alumni and Bowling Green residents teamed up to write a Call for Action letter demanding several things including better communication. To ensure they will come to a solution, BGSU student Eishat Ahmed said, "We are calling for a townhall with BGSU President Rodney Rodgers, with the campus and off campus sheriff and deputy. We would like it to be moderated by the citizens and we want our voices to be heard."
A petition was also formed on Change.org, calling for a change to BGSU's firearm policy to apply to citizens who are not BGSU students. As of Wednesday night, the petition had over 2,300 signatures.
WTOL 11 reached out to BGSU to see if they had any comment regarding the Call for Action letter but have not heard back.