MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Administrators at West Virginia University expect to be very busy as the 2024 State Legislative Session continues.

The WVU Faculty Senate Executive Committee reviewed its legislative priorities on Monday. Travis Mollohan, WVU Assistant Vice President for Government Relations and Collaboration, reported that conversations continue regarding potential proposals over diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies and the now-passed West Virginia Self Defense Act. Mollohan told the dozens of faculty representatives in attendance that WVU may need to reexamine policies if any potential laws related to DEI are passed.

“We haven’t received any concrete information, but we believe that some kind of bill will be introduced and proposed this year,” said Mollohan. “There are a couple of DEI bills already introduced,” he said.

Concerns over the potential return of bills such as House Bill 3503, which did not pass in the 2023 session, were originally brought up at the WVU Faculty Senate meeting earlier this month. Though not explicitly stated by Mollohan, House Bill 4387, a bill that mentions DEI measures, was introduced to the House Education Committee on January 10. If the state legislature were to pass any DEI-related bills, West Virginia would join just over half a dozen other states that have passed measures that affected funding or outright banned the policy at state-funded institutions. Despite this consideration, Mollohan doesn’t expect any passed laws to have similar frameworks in comparison to other states.

“I believe that we’re in a pretty good position to understand what we do on our campus, why we do it, how much we spend, etc.,” said Mollohan. “So we can see what that language would be like, you know, while we can look at other states and what has happened there, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’ll be replicated here,” he said.

Mollohan also mentioned that WVU officials have been in touch with legislators regarding how they should react to measures that will be in place in response to the West Virginia Self-Defense Act, the bill legalizing the carrying of concealed firearms on campus. Based on conversations with staff members, administrators, and legislators, plans are in place to begin making formal policies for WVU to account for the law that will take effect in July 2024.

“The first recommendation was that we would request the board of governors and university leadership adopt a rule around the Campus Self-Defense Act and the Business Liability Protection Act,” said Mollohan. “Two laws that will govern the way a person can carry on campus,” he said.

As the implementation date draws closer, Mollohan expects WVU administrators and legislators to discuss financial support for any equipment installations for security purposes. One example is the installation of gun lockers in at least two dorms as required by legislation, and a recommendation for the installation of metal detectors at certain locations was made by WVU faculty and staff members. As the 2024 West Virginia Legislative Session reaches closer to its halfway point, Mollohan encourages WVU faculty senate members to prepare to discuss policy changes as early as this spring.

“I really see the spring, in March and April, our chance to really all sit down and kind of work through how this process will be handled going forward,” said Mollohan.