Get armed…with reason, what you can do now

Concealed carry permits do not decrease crime: There is no statistically significant correlation between changes in concealed carry licensing and crime rates. Armed citizens rarely successfully defend themselves in mass shootings or during other crimes; instead, in a number of mass shooting events, an armed citizen nearly endangered other bystanders. (Phillips 2015, Journal of Criminology; everytown.org)

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among young people ages 15 to 24. But college student suicide rates have actually been lower than the general population since 1960 because firearms were effectively banned from campuses. (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention; Schwartz 2006, Journal of American College Health)

The majority of Texans are opposed to Campus Carry: 63% are opposed to allowing college students to carry concealed handguns onto college campuses. 72% are opposed to allowing college students to bring concealed handguns into the classroom. (March 2015 SurveyUSA News Poll)

The High Costs of Campus Carry: The UT System says it will pay more than $39 million to further train campus police, add personnel, build gun storage facilities, purchase equipment and signage, and update security systems. (Houston Chronicle, Feb 2015)

Guns have a chilling effect on the free speech and free discourse that are the core of UT’s mission. Students must feel comfortable asking questions and discussing complex, charged topics. Faculty and staff must be able to challenge students to engage with difficult subjects. Family members need to be confident that UT is protecting their loved ones. Guns in classrooms and offices erode the foundation of higher education.

We are already seeing the fallout from the impending implementation of SB11. The Dean of our nationally celebrated UT School of Architecture stepped down, as have several professors, all citing campus carry as a reason for their departure. Numerous top academic hires and outstanding graduate students have turned down offers from UT-Austin or withdrawn from consideration because of campus carry. More than a few out-of-state students are transferring, while greater numbers are choosing not to apply. Even in-state families are seeking other options.

Losing even one professor or student because of campus carry is one too many.

What you can do:

●  Join more than 1,700 faculty members and thousands of staff, students, parents and alumni who have signed petitions against guns on our campus at  gunfreeut.org
●  Add your name to our mailing list to receive updates at: tinyurl.com/gunfreeut-list
●  Tell us your story of how an experience you’ve had on campus could have turned dangerous or deadly if someone had had a gun at: tinyurl.com/gunfreeconcerns
●  Connect with us on Facebook (Gun-Free UT) and  Twitter (@gunfreeut)

Press Release: Longhorns Rounding up National to Local Legislative Hopefuls for Q&A on #ClassroomCarry

PRESS RELEASE
22nd February,  2016, For Immediate Release

Link to Document

Longhorn Cattle Call: Longhorn’s Rounding up National to Local Legislative Hopefuls for Q&A on #ClassroomCarry
There will be no roping or riding, Friday 26th February at 2pm, but Longhornsnational to local legislative hopefuls (including UT’s GSA) who’ve thrown their hats into the civil service ring, are being asked to attend the Longhorn Cattle Call; a Q&A session to answer specific questions about Campus Carry on the West Mall Steps. Following recent direct actions within campus, UT Graduate Students Against Classroom Carry and the Legislative Affairs Committee of the Graduate Student Assembly are now pivoting from their focus on President Fenves to the Texas State Legislators who have imposed #SB11 and #ClassroomCarry on a community that is entirely opposed to it (Faculty Council, Graduate Student Assembly, and Student Governance have all passed resolutions opposing guns in classrooms). UT faculty and grad students say they suffer ongoing frustration with the current law as implemented. Among the queries: “Do you support an emergency injunction of SB11 in order to address real and anticipated harms caused by SB11 and its implementation as planned?” and “Do you support an ‘equality’ amendment allowing public universities to opt out?” To help ease the mood, the event will feature BBQ and music. The press is invited to attend.

CONTACT

UT Graduate Students Against Classroom Carry:  Coordinators
Legislative Affairs Committee of the Graduate Student Assembly: Chair, Michael Barnes

“Photo courtesy of Dickinson Cattle Co. LLC

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Graduate Student Assembly Resolution

Link to document

G.R. 16 (S) 1
The Graduate Student Assembly
The University of Texas at Austin

Resolution: G.R. 16 (S) 1 Sponsors: Legislative Affairs Committee
Keeping UT Classrooms Gun-Free

Summary: A resolution expressing the position of the Graduate Student Assembly on Senate Bill 11 (S.B. 11), the “campus carry” law.

WHEREAS

“Senate Bill 11, the “campus carry” law, was passed by the Texas Legislature and signed into law by Governor Abbott last spring and provides that, beginning August 1, 2016, a person who holds a license to carry may carry a handgun – concealed – both on the grounds and in the buildings of an institution of higher education”; and
(from the Final Report, Campus Carry Working Group)

WHEREAS

Graduate students increasingly live, work, study, and learn in spaces that will be open to CHL holders under S.B. 11, if implemented as per the Campus Carry Working Group recommendations; and

WHEREAS

1,787 UT graduate students to date have signed a public statement affirming their opposition to firearms in UT classrooms, who belong to 132 programs in 18 Colleges and Schools at UT and represent 15.8% of the university’s 11,331 graduate student population; and
(from press release, UT Grad Students Oppose Campus Carry)

WHEREAS

The Campus Carry Working group found, “A very substantial majority of the comments [they] received from the University community expressed opposition to or serious misgivings about S.B. 11 and the implementation of campus carry,” which is consistent with conversations shared with this body during assembly meetings and with comments received by our members; and

WHEREAS

We believe new university policies, whether produced internally or required by the state legislature, ought to have a demonstrated positive effect on educational outcomes, and a review of the evidence cited by the Campus Carry Working Group in their report finds no positive effect, in fact their report recognizes that “allowing concealed handguns in classrooms may chill some class discussion and hinder the recruitment and retention of faculty and students”; and

WHEREAS

We are eager to engage in a detailed conversation around the implementation of S.B.11 at UT in the future, we believe it is important to acknowledge a significant group of graduate students who are opposed to guns in academic classrooms in any and all circumstances; and

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT

The Graduate Student Assembly strongly opposes concealed handgun license (CHL) holders bringing concealed weapons into UT classrooms; and

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT

The Graduate Student Assembly considers S.B.11 an ideological bill that is an unnecessary intrusion into an educational environment that risks, in the words of Chancellor McRaven, stifling “the academic freedom and robust debate that is central to our mission of educating the young men and women of our state and conducting the research that changes lives and the world around us”; and

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT

The Graduate Student Assembly strongly encourages that President Gregory Fenves do everything in his power to prevent CHL holders from bringing concealed weapons into UT classrooms; and

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT

This legislation be filed with the Office of the President, made available on the Graduate Student Assembly website, and be broadly distributed to graduate students and the UT community.

Press Release: “Grad Students say ‘Don’t Waste Your Breath’ to Tabled Measure”

PRESS RELEASE

2nd February,  2016
For Immediate Release

Contact : UT Graduate Students Against Classroom Carry
Link to File
Facebook Event

The University of Texas, Austin: “Grad Students say ‘Don’t Waste Your Breath’ to Tabled Measure”

On January 27th, in an unexpected and surprising action, the Graduate Student Assembly (GSA) refused to cast a vote on a proposed resolution (G.R.16(S)1) that opposes concealed handguns in classrooms at The University of Texas at Austin.  The GSA Legislative Affairs Committee, which introduced the original resolution, authored by chair Michael Barnes, called for an amended version of the resolution to be reconsidered by GSA on Wednesday, February 3rd in a special session.  The Legislative Affairs Committee worked last week with vocal critics of the original resolution in drafting the amended version.

In advance of the special session, we are calling for direct action in order to ensure graduate student voices are recognized and respected. UT Graduate Students Against Campus Carry, working in partnership with the Legislative Affairs Committee, invites all graduate students to an event titled “Don’t Waste Your Breath” (Wed., Feb 3rd, 3:00-5:30 pm on Gregory Plaza). We will put our “hot air” to use by asking each graduate student to blow up a balloon as a visible “vote” for or against implementation of Campus Carry (SB11) at UT. We will then haul the balloons — our collective breath — to the GSA Special Session to visually represent our strength in numbers.

The disappointing indecision within GSA last week comes as a very unwelcome surprise to nearly 1,800 graduate students who join the voices of 1,700 faculty members, the Faculty Council and 40 academic departments, centers, and schools who support making classrooms “gun-free zones.”

The concerns of graduate students regarding SB11 were evident during the first forty minutes of the GSA meeting, during a discussion with Vice President Vance Roper about the Campus Carry Working Group’s Report. Graduate students overwhelmingly raised concerns about the implementation of SB11, and specifically about the Campus Carry Working Group’s recommendations that guns should be allowed in classrooms, and that graduate students who share offices should not be allowed to ban guns in those spaces.

One student stated that she would not have come to UT if she had known that SB11 was a possibility and asked what kind of options graduate students who have just commenced their doctorates are left with, and whether her only remaining option now is to withdraw completely from PhD process. Another graduate student questioned the logic of the recommendations that guns should be prohibited from laboratories but not classrooms:  If it is not safe to have guns in labs, why is it okay in classrooms? Isn’t “accidental discharge” equally concerning in a class full of students? Another GSA representative explained that it was becoming apparent that graduate students and others concerned about SB11 are not being heard on this issue –  especially with regards to the Working Group’s recommendations – and stated that a group of graduate students are prepared to engage in acts of civil disobedience.

Last Wednesday’s event follows a steady march of recent activity among graduate students at UT Austin in the campus carry debate, and precedes the anticipated release in February of campus carry policy recommendations by President Gregory Fenves. Several public forums were well attended by graduate students in the Fall.  On December 1st, 1,789 graduate and professional students across 132 programs in 18 Colleges and Schools wrote a public letter to President Fenves outlining their opposition to guns in classrooms at UT-Austin. In early December, the Legislative Affairs Committee hosted a campus carry conversation, inviting graduate students in particular to express their concerns and ask questions about SB 11. This conversation, and the forums that preceded it, led the Legislative Affairs Committee to issue two open letters on campus carry to President Fenves, which the committee delivered in person on December 9th, 2016. The first, An Open Letter Expressing Opposition to Firearms in UT Classrooms expressed opposition to handguns in classrooms, while the second, An Open Letter Addressing Graduate Student Questions on Campus Carry, raised serious questions and concerns regarding the specific details of implementing campus carry, beginning August 1.

Until last week, the GSA had not discussed legislation concerning SB11 since before it was signed into law, in June of 2015. This stands in stark contrast to the Faculty Council at UT Austin, which has already passed two separate resolutions, both of which outline opposition to guns in classrooms. Getting the GSA to pass a resolution now is key, especially as Fenves is due to make his decision by mid February – there may not be another chance for the GSA to pass a resolution on behalf of concerned graduate students. Will our GSA be able to reverse the current trend toward inaction, and deliver a strong statement concerning campus carry that represents UT Austin’s graduate and professional students’ voices? If you help us by participating in our direct action Wednesday, at the very least, the GSA will be required to engage with and consider the collective voice of the graduate student body that it promises to represent.

CONTACT

Coordinators for: UT Graduate Students Against Classroom Carry utgrads.oppose.campuscarry@gmail.com

For more information about Campus Carry visit Gun Free UT and access the Graduate Student Petition here.

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The Archaeological Institute of America Statement on Campus Carry

aiaseal

At its Janary 8, 2016 Council Meeting, the AIA Council voted to approve the following statement:

The Archaeological Institute of America is deeply concerned about the impact of Texas’s new campus carry law on freedom of expression in Texas universities. The law, which was passed earlier this year and takes effect in August 2016, allows licensed handgun carriers to bring concealed handguns into buildings on Texas campuses. Our societies are concerned that the campus carry law and similar laws in other states introduce serious safety threats on college campuses.

The AIA joins with more than twenty-eight other scholarly societies who have also expressed concern about campus carry legislation. For a complete list, please visit the Modern Language Association’s Statements on Campus Carry Legislation page.

UT Faculty Council Passes New Resolutions on Campus Carry

On November 16, 2015, the UT Austin Faculty Council passed a resolution concluding that it “strongly opposes allowing guns in The University of Texas at Austin classrooms, laboratories, residence halls, university offices, and other spaces of education.”

In December 2015, the Campus Carry Policy Working Group (CC working group) released its report recommending the gun-exclusion zones that should be allowed when Senate Bill 11 (SB 11) is implemented on August 1, 2016.

Consistent with the Faculty Council’s resolution, the CC working group recommended excluding guns from:

      • Laboratories
      • Animal Facilities
      • Dormitories (but not public spaces)
      • Assigned offices (with responsibility for notifications and off-site meetings).

Although the working group expressed its strong opposition to guns in classrooms, it did not recommend excluding guns from them, and it reached no consensus on mixed use buildings.

Responding to the CC working group’s recommendations, the Faculty Council recognizes that the CC working group had a difficult job and that they “made every effort to remain true to the charge President Fenves gave us: to recommend steps he can take that will promote safety and security for all members of the campus in a way that complies with the law” (Report p. 7).  The Faculty Council also wishes to express its support for maintaining campus safety, but it also affirms its broader responsibility, one that includes protecting free inquiry and academic freedom from intimidating influences that impede learning and creative activities.  With that responsibility in mind, the Faculty Council endorses the following resolutions:

Resolution 1.  Classrooms should be gun-exclusion zones.

Commentary:  All members of the working group felt that guns should not be allowed in classrooms.  They were, nevertheless, concerned that excluding guns from classrooms would be considered a general prohibition and therefore illegal.  They considered but rejected the alternative, which is to exclude guns from classrooms while providing secure storage for guns for students and instructors in class.  Such storage could be provided as secure gun lockers in enclosed spaces at various locations on campus.

The working group reasoned that storing and retrieving guns introduces risks that are greater than just carrying guns.  While it is true that there is a risk to storing guns, the risk is borne mainly by the gun owners, not the whole campus.  If the risk is unacceptable, the gun owners have the option of leaving their guns at home.  Students and faculty who feel intimidated, or at risk because of guns in the classroom, do not have the option of missing or cancelling classes.

Resolution 2:  When any part of a building is a gun-exclusion zone, the whole building should be a gun-exclusion zone.

Commentary: Having parts of buildings as exclusion zones will be very difficult to enforce, while treating buildings as units will reduce requirements for signage, which is a goal of the Chancellor’s.  This policy will solve the problem of how to treat mixed-use buildings.  In addition, it means that common areas in dormitories would be gun-exclusion zones.

Resolution 3.  University personnel who have declared their office a gun-exclusion zone should be able to post appropriate signage if the “whole building” policy proposed in Resolution 2 is not adopted.  They should also not be required to meet an armed person at another location.

Commentary:  Recommendation #18 in the CC working group report proposes that an office holder who has prohibited concealed weapons should give oral notice to visitors and arrange somewhere else to meet with gun owners.  The expectation of oral notice and having to arrange external meeting space is complicated, time-consuming, fraught, and intimidating, and it is an unjustifiable burden on University personnel.  Gun owners who wish to meet with staff in a gun-exclusion zone  should store their weapons and not create unnecessary work for already overburdened staff and faculty.

Resolution 4.  The University Police should receive extensive training to deal with the implementation of SB 11.

Commentary:  A recent demonstration adjacent to campus and in a campus parking garage evoked a confused response from campus police.  Several men with semiautomatic weapons   on the roof of a parking garage were not considered reason for alarm.  Open display of a handgun or a very good replica was also deemed acceptable.  Students and staff asked officers on the scene if the open carry of handguns was permissible, and whether the garages were considered university premises, and the officers were unable to give clear answers. The University needs to establish a policy that assures the campus that the police are properly trained and will not allow armed individuals to intimidate or threaten the community.

Resolution 5.  The University should mount an initiative to study gun violence, and non-lethal means of enhancing personal safety, both on-campus and off-campus.

Commentary: As the CC working group recognized, this important area of study has long been neglected. The University of Texas at Austin could quickly become a national leader by establishing an interdisciplinary research center or institute spanning STEM and Humanities disciplines and recruiting outstanding senior scholars to lead innovative approaches to these complex problems.  This effort should include a robust multi-media Public Scholarship effort to make research results on gun violence and violence prevention accessible to the public. A working group should be tasked with developing a plan to establish these research and outreach efforts.  One useful step might be an initial workshop on campus bringing leading scholars from other institutions to interact with UT faculty, staff, and development officers to help jump-start this process.

Faculty Council Meeting January 25, 2016

GENERAL FACULTY & FACULTY COUNCIL MEETINGS ON JAN 25
OPEN TO ALL FACULTY

President Fenves has agreed to postpone making a final recommendation on campus carry until after the Jan 25 General Faculty/Faculty Council meeting.

Schedule for Monday, January 25:
Location: MAI 212

1:30 PM The annual meeting of the School of Undergraduate Studies (UGS). All members of the General Faculty are invited to attend.

At approximately 2:15 and immediately following the UGS meeting, President Fenves will preside over the annual meeting of the General Faculty.

Business items include:

Election of the Secretary
Discussion of Suggestions on Faculty Voting Rights from the Faculty Rules and Governance

Immediately following the annual meeting of the General Faculty will be the regular meeting of the Faculty Council, which all faculty are invited to attend. At that meeting, you will hear an Update on and Understanding of the Campus Sexual Assault Initiative by Noel Busch-Armendariz and an update on Campus Carry by Steve Goode and Coleman Hutchison. President Fenves will also address questions on Campus Carry received from members of the General Faculty.

COME TO SUPPORT STRONG RESTRICTIONS ON CAMPUS CARRY

If you are unable to attend, you can watch all three meetings from the Video-streaming link: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/utaustin

Armed with Reason