Pittsburg State University - Pittsburg, Kansas
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News and information from Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kansas.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

PSU moves to quickly deal with threatening student

Pittsburg State University officials said today that students who shared their concerns about another student in their residence hall allowed them to move swiftly to prevent a possibly dangerous situation.

In the early morning hours of Tuesday, Sept. 4, members of the University Police assisted by the Pittsburg Police Department executed a search warrant for the car and room of Nathan L Backs, a freshman from Leavenworth, Kan. A shotgun, ammunition and knives were found in the car and numerous knives were found in the room. Backs was taken into custody by Pittsburg Police and transported to the Crawford County Jail.

Associate Vice President for Campus Life Steve Erwin praised the students who reported their concerns and university staff for their quick response.

“This is the way it should work,” Erwin said. “These students heard some things that disturbed them and some things they perceived as threatening. Instead of ignoring the behavior, they reported their worries to their residence hall adviser. That person investigated and then brought the issue to his area coordinator who reported the situation to the University Police. Because of these actions, we were able to diffuse a potential crisis.”

Erwin said the university works hard to maintain a safe learning environment for students, faculty and staff.

“We take the issue of campus safety very seriously,” Erwin said. “Tragedies on other campuses have demonstrated that time is a luxury we may not have when someone first notices dangerous behavior or statements.”

Erwin said Backs has a right to a discipline hearing, but until he invokes that right, he has been temporarily suspended from the university. The university also plans to remove him from the residence hall.

Among the prohibited actions listed in the university’s Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities is the “Possession and/or use of firearms, fireworks, dangerous weapons and hazardous chemicals.” The code gives the associate vice president for campus life the authority to impose a summary suspension “when there is reason to believe, based on available facts, that the student represents an immediate threat to the safety, health, or welfare of herself/himself, other persons, or property.” The policy states that any student who is summarily suspended and returns to campus may be treated as a trespasser.

---Pitt State---