Category Archives: statements by departments, students and professional organizations

American Scholarly Societies Joint Statement

American Scholarly Societies Joint Statement on “Campus Carry” Legislation

November 30, 2015

The undersigned learned societies are 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 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 with a resulting harmful effect on students and professors.

American Academy of Religion
American Anthropological Association
American Antiquarian Society
American Association for the History of Medicine
American Folklore Society
American Historical Association
American Musicological Society
American Philosophical Association
American Political Science Association
American Studies Association
American Society for Aesthetics
American Society for Environmental History
American Sociological Association
Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies
Association of American Geographers
College Art Association
Latin American Studies Association
Law and Society Association
Medieval Academy of America
Middle East Studies Association
Modern Language Association
National Communication Association
National Council on Public History
Oral History Association
Society for American Music
Society of Architectural Historians
Society of Biblical Literature
Society for Ethnomusicology
World History Association

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Graduate Student Art History Association Statement on Campus Carry

The Graduate Student Art History Association (GSAHA) at the University of Texas at Austin stands with the faculty and staff of the Art and Art History department in opposing the implementation of Texas SB11. We believe sanctioning concealed handguns on our campus will be intellectually, physically, and emotionally detrimental to our community. As graduate students, we assume greater levels of risk as we are both students and staff, acting as graders, museum and gallery interns, research assistants, teaching assistants, and assistant instructors. Moreover, most of us are women and many of us are from marginalized communities–groups that are disproportionately victims of gun violence. Indeed, Texas SB11 institutionalizes violence in our society, endowing a huge and grossly unrepresentative portion of the civilian population to have rule over the life and death of others.

Allowing firearms on campus will stunt the academic rigor of our classrooms. Largely object-based, the discipline of art history requires in-depth visual analyses and critical deliberation of art objects. We closely examine objects to discuss and interpret what we see in an effort to understand and appreciate the world views and value systems of past and present civilizations as expressed through their visual cultures. Whether familiar or foreign, these objects have the power to incite strong emotions in viewers. Therefore, cultural understanding and sensitivity are required in our classroom discussions; and educators and students must feel supported, encouraged, and safe to express their views. This is fundamental to our practice as art historians and, thus, it is critical to our academic success. The threat of gun violence in the classroom will intimidate both educators and students. It will hinder free speech and narrow the intellectual scope of the classroom.

In addition, concealed weapons on campus will put women and marginalized communities at increased risk of harm and act as a constant threat of violence. Colleges and universities are places where educated women, ethnic minorities, immigrants, and LGBTQIA communities often question, examine, and dismantle systems of power and inequity. It is these very demographic populations who are most likely to be the victims of targeted violence. In fact, homicide is the second most likely way for women to die in the workplace, after car accidents. The Art History graduate student body values our diverse identifications of gender, race, nationality, religion, and sexuality; and we denounce intimidation of and violence against women and marginalized peoples.

Lastly, we are concerned about the impact of sanctioned concealed handgun carry on the well-being of students, staff, and faculty who suffer from mental health disorders. Tragically familiar with the intersection of mental illness and academia, the Art and Art History department has been affected by two suicides in the last six years. The concealed carry law will allow guns in dormitories and classrooms; this increased access to firearms is a danger to those who suffer from depression or other mental health issues, especially those with thoughts of suicide. Students are under a lot of pressure, especially at the flagship University of Texas at Austin, and an overwhelming number suffer from depression. Unfortunately, there is a direct correlation between access to firearms and increased suicide, with guns being the most lethal means.

Recognizing that the law is now in its implementation stage, we ask the President of the University to establish broad exclusionary zones in which guns are banned on campus including classrooms, faculty and teaching assistant offices, graduate student lounges, all libraries and dormitories, all performance halls and sports complexes, on-campus daycare and other child education centers, buildings that include health services, and any building where alcohol is served. Continue reading Graduate Student Art History Association Statement on Campus Carry

Graduate Coordinator Network Statement on Campus Carry S.B. 11

We represent the members of the Graduate Coordinator Network (GCN), and we are extremely concerned about the implementation of S.B. 11 at The University of Texas at Austin.  As Graduate Coordinators, we often serve as the first point of contact for graduate students seeking assistance for a variety of academic and non-academic issues.  Graduate students, even more than undergraduates, typically experience a great deal of stress; not only are the academic demands placed on them arduous, they often face financial instability, which not infrequently  impacts their family  relationships.  As a result, we Graduate Coordinators often find ourselves in volatile situations, faced with angry, depressed, and sometimes unstable students. Knowing that these students might be carrying a gun when they enter our offices is not only frightening, but potentially dangerous.  We urge you to include the offices of Graduate Coordinators and other student advisors as part of the “gun-free” zone that will be established on campus.

Thank you for considering our request.  We look forward to working with you in an effort to not only maintain the academic integrity of our campus but to keep it as safe an environment as possible. Continue reading Graduate Coordinator Network Statement on Campus Carry S.B. 11

Campus Carry Resolution from Faculty Council

Amended and Endorsed by the Faculty Council
November 16, 2015

The Mission of The University of Texas at Austin is to achieve excellence in “undergraduate education, graduate education, research and public service [and to] contribute to the advancement of society through research, creative activity, scholarly inquiry and the development of new knowledge.” The Faculty Council asserts that the University cannot fulfill this mission if guns are allowed in educational facilities. We believe that by creating an uneasy and potentially hostile environment for intellectual inquiry, guns in educational spaces impede learning, honest evaluation, and academic freedom. Guns in campus buildings also jeopardize the quality and reputation of the University by hurting recruitment and retention of faculty, staff, and students. Therefore, the Faculty Council strongly opposes allowing guns in The University of Texas at Austin classrooms, laboratories, residence halls, university offices, and other spaces of education.

General Faculty and Faculty Council

Campus Carry Resolution
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Department of Art and Art History Statement on Campus Carry

We, the faculty, staff, and graduate students in the Department of Art and Art History in the College of Fine Arts, strongly oppose the presence of guns in classrooms, laboratories, offices, and social spaces on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin.

Many departments can argue for exclusion from Campus Carry SB11 (and we teach in small groups and in large lecture halls, in darkened rooms and laboratories), but as concerned as we are for our own safety and that of our students, we are more concerned about how this law undermines the very basis of what we teach.  As professionals engaged with the visual arts, we teach that objects are not neutral, in terms of either value or significance. We educate our students to recognize the embodiment of relationships of authority and power in objects and images. Moreover, cultural and social contexts shape meaning and power relationships between individuals; guns in classrooms, laboratories, or offices signify differently from guns in wartime, police work, or at ranges, and they perpetuate the power dynamics at play in those spheres.

We stand in solidarity with groups on our campus who areaffected disproportionately by violence, including communities of color, women, individuals living with disabilities and members of the LGBTQIA community. Continue reading Department of Art and Art History Statement on Campus Carry

Fellows at the Institute for Historical Studies Concerns about Campus Carry

As faculty fellows invited to spend the year hosted by the Institute for Historical Studies in the Department of History, we’ve joined your community for the year in order participate in the larger system efforts to make what Chancellor McRaven calls a “Quantum Leap” forward in the quality of intellectual life in the state. Since the Institute was established in 2007, it has brought together fellows like us from around the country and the world, building a reputation in a competitive environment as a unique center for creative historical work that enhances the lives of faculty and students on campus. Interaction with the UT community distinguishes this fellowship from opportunities at other universities and centers.

But that distinction is dulled by the recent policy facilitating the ability of individuals to carry handguns onto campus. Each of us hails from public institutions in states that respect citizens’ basic constitutional rights. None of us has to confront colleagues, students or staff carrying guns in our home institutions nor would we at most other sites hosting fellows in the discipline of History.

We wish to add our voice to those of students, faculty, staff and families who oppose any interpretation of Second Amendment rights to extend to carrying arms into classrooms and spaces of learning, and any implementation of campus-carry laws that undermine the maintenance of a safe, free intellectual community, one that continues to attract talented teachers and researchers. Continue reading Fellows at the Institute for Historical Studies Concerns about Campus Carry

Department of Mathematics Statement on Opposition to Guns in Classrooms

November 12, 2015

The Department of Mathematics at The University of Texas at Austin is opposed  to allowing guns in classrooms and faculty offices. The presence of guns, or even their potential presence, would create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation  that would impede our ability to teach, to mentor students, and to conduct  research, and it would interfere with our students’ ability to learn. As such, guns  would undermine the core mission of the University. Continue reading Department of Mathematics Statement on Opposition to Guns in Classrooms

Department of Economics on Campus Carry

The undersigned faculty, staff, and emeriti of the Department of Economics at the University of Texas at  Austin strongly oppose the “campus carry” bill (Senate Bill 11) that is scheduled to go into effect August 1, 2016. We believe that the presence of guns (concealed or otherwise) in classrooms, faculty offices, social spaces, and dormitories is unsafe and will inhibit the free exchange of ideas and viewpoints that is integral to a university. As we aspire to be a first tier public university, we must recognize that this law will damage our ability to recruit and retain the best students and faculty from across Texas, the United States, and the world. Continue reading Department of Economics on Campus Carry

Department of Biomedical Engineering Statement on Campus Carry

We, the members of the Department of Biomedical Engineering listed below, state our  strong opposition to concealed weapons on campus. As biomedical engineers we strive to improve human health by training students to bridge engineering and physical sciences with the biological sciences. The free exchange of ideas in the classroom, laboratories, and faculty and staff offices is central to this goal and we feel that the presence of guns on campus will inhibit free speech and open dialog. In addition, almost all Biomedical Engineering laboratories contain flammable and toxic chemicals,
biological agents and other hazards, and the presence of guns in these environments  could pose additional threats. Allowing guns in campus buildings would be detrimental to our ability to educate students and is counter to the mission of the Department of Biomedical Engineering. Continue reading Department of Biomedical Engineering Statement on Campus Carry