A UVa-Wise student’s petition calling for his reinstatement to the college had received 105 supporters as of Monday.
Michael Peck, a senior art major, addressed the petition on change.org to Chancellor Donna Henry asking that a suspension and ban from college grounds be removed so that he may graduate this spring. Peck was suspended from the college following an October trip with the art department to Asheville, N.C. On the trip Peck open carried a handgun and was confronted by a police officer at a restaurant, Peck said.
The officer took no action regarding the interaction; however, faculty on the trip reported the incident to college officials, Peck said.
Upon returning to campus, Peck said he was served papers banning him from campus and a hearing was set to address charges of violating the college’s weapon’s policy and conduct that reflects negatively on the college community. Peck was found guilty of violating the college’s weapon policy, he said.
Peck said he was aware of the campus weapon’s policy and took actions to avoid violation. Peck said he asked his professor if it would be possible to put his handgun in her van on the trip so that he wouldn’t be bringing it onto school property. Peck said his professor was late arriving for the trip and thought Peck was joking when he initially made the request.
According to his petition, Peck said, “This decision on her part caused me to break the school’s policy regarding weapons (something I didn’t want to do).”
Peck said he has been seeking legal advice and is in the process of organizing a protest to gain his reinstatement to the college.
Peck said his decision to bring the handgun on the trip was no different than the decision he makes to carry the weapon every day, for the protection of himself and those around him. Peck said he knows the laws surrounding open carrying the weapon and follows them.
College officials declined to comment on Peck’s situation, but released a statement citing that Peck is within his rights to start a petition but that the college will not comment on it. College officials did not confirm Peck’s being banned from campus but acknowledged that it is campus policy that a student suspended or banned from campus is also trespassed for the duration.
Pecks petition can be found online at https://www.change.org/petitions/donna-price-henry-ph-d-remove-michael-peck-s-suspension-and-reinstate-him.