Among efforts to address campus violence at universities, the Higher Education Ministry mulls granting campus security personnel the status of law enforcers, a senior official announced on Sunday.
Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Adel Tweisi said the legal and administrative committee of the Higher Education Council (HEC) is currently working on including this article in a draft law that governs Jordanian universities.
In a phone interview with The Jordan Times, he said the committee is expected to finalise its work within 10 days, and once the draft law is approved by the HEC, it will be referred to the Cabinet to go through the constitutional channels, he said.
Although the council has recommended upgrading the jurisdiction of campus security personnel in 2013, the ministry hesitated to endorse it and took other measures that helped reduce the frequency of brawls among students, mostly for tribal reasons.
However, the issue resurfaced after the violent incident at the University of Jordan (UJ), especially since the fighting was seen as a “new form of intra-community violence”, he said, explaining that 95 per cent of those who took part in the brawl were not UJ students, but rather outsiders who showed up to support fellow tribesmen and friends.
“Campus guards were not able to deal with these outsiders, who took advantage of the immunity of the campus, and they cannot ever [deal with them] as long as they are not legally enjoying the powers of a law enforcement body,” Tweisi noted.
In case the proposed law is passed, there will emerge the need to rehabilitate members of campus security to ensure diversity of their (tribal and regional) backgrounds to avoid bias and to ensure they do not misuse power against students and outsiders, the minister said, suggesting that the revamp could see recruits from retired members of security forces.
“We do not want anyone to storm into university campuses without being able to stop them,” he said, adding that the ministry wants to limit the involvement of police in incidents of campus violence as much as possible.
Under their current jurisdiction, campus security personnel can be sued by individuals if they use any level of force to stop them, the minister noted, hoping that the new law would change this reality.