Category Archives: press release

MEDIA ADVISORY: UT-Austin professors fight SB-11 in federal court

August 2, 2016
GunFree UT press advisory

UT-Austin professors fight SB-11 in federal court; Gun-Free UT to hold post-hearing press conference

AUSTIN, TX — A lawsuit filed by three University of Texas-Austin professors against Senate Bill 11, known as campus carry, will get its first day in court this week. A hearing on the preliminary injunction will take place at 2:00 pm on Thursday, August 4 at the Federal Courthouse, 501 W. 5th Street. Professors Jennifer Lynn Glass, Lisa Moore and Mia Carter are suing to block the implementation of campus carry on the UT-Austin campus before the first day of classes on August 24th.

Gun-Free UT, which supports the plaintiffs in their efforts to keep guns out of classrooms, will hold a press conference outside the courthouse immediately following the hearing. Among the topics we will address are:

  • The broad support for the goals of the lawsuit within UT and the community at large.
  • Negative effects of SB 11 on recruitment and retention of faculty, administrators and students,
  • The need for a major research effort to reduce gun violence and promote personal safety without continued proliferation of guns.
    including the failure to recruit a Nobel Laureate.


Gun-Free UT is a broad coalition of faculty, students, staff, parents and alumni opposed to allowing guns in campus buildings. Since its founding in August 2015, Gun-Free UT has become a statewide movement, garnering national and international attention. Thousands at UT campuses from El Paso to the Rio Grande Valley to Tyler have joined in the fight to keep concealed firearms out of dorms, classrooms and offices. 

For more information on Gun-FreeUT’s legal position, click here

Gun-Free UT Statement on President Fenves’ Campus Carry Policies

GunFreeUT Statement on President Fenves’ Campus Carry Policies – February 17, 2016

Download GunFreeUT Statement on President Fenves

GunFreeUT is a large group of faculty, students, staff, parents, and alumni that support common-sense policies that ban the civilian carry of handguns on the University of Texas at Austin campus.

We acknowledge that President Fenves’s policy adopts some provisions supported by the campus community, including banning concealed handguns in university-run student dormitory rooms, facilities hosting children, and areas with dangerous substances.  It also permits occupants of individual offices to disallow guns in those spaces.  But the policy does not go far enough.  We strongly oppose President Fenves’ decision to permit guns other areas of campus, including classrooms, shared offices, student dining areas, and lounges.  We call upon the Regents of the University of Texas to use their power to amend Campus Carry policy by banning guns in all campus buildings.

Stakeholders do not want guns on campus.  More than 1,700 UT-Austin professors, nearly 1,800 graduate and professional students, a majority of polled undergraduates, and almost 9,000 members of the community oppose guns in classrooms.  The UT-Austin Faculty Council opposes guns in classrooms as do 43 campus departments and 11 academic professional societies.

In our view, the first responsibility of the university president is to protect the safety and welfare of its students and employees.  President Fenves’s policy fails this simple test.  The policy prohibits concealed carry where animals and certain chemicals are present due to concern over accidental discharge, but does not prohibit guns where students, faculty, and staff teach, learn, and work.  The Campus Carry Working Group whose recommendations President Fenves adopted concluded that accidental discharge represents a major risk if guns are handled. 

Campus Carry Policy will make concealed handguns easily accessible for many members of the campus community.  Nearly all faculty, staff, graduate students, and other employees can obtain a concealed carry permit by attending a four-hour course and with no prior or subsequent training of any kind.  If that is too much red tape, Texas has reciprocity agreements with 31 states, including some that issue licenses to nonresidents and have no training requirement.

Campus carry advocates argue that armed citizens will better protect themselves and others, but actual research shows that claim is false.  States with laxer gun laws have more violent crime, no armed civilian (who was not affiliated with law enforcement or the military) has ever neutralized a school shooter, and one of the most substantial studies on the subject shows that even trained police officers achieve just an 18% hit-rate during gunfights.

Failing to ban guns in classrooms and other areas not only makes our places or work and study more dangerous, but it also threatens academic freedom and free speech, compromises our educational mission, and diminishes the university’s reputation.  The university should be known for its distinguished faculty, the quality of its education, and the excellence of its athletes.  Campus Carry damages our reputation at home and abroad.  Governor Abbott and Texas lawmakers recently adopted SB 632 to fund the recruitment of world-class faculty to the university, including its new medical center, yet guns on campus have already repulsed potential recruits and talented faculty have resigned.  We are certain to suffer more losses to our reputation and our donor-base.

Education and research is what we do best and we are struck by the absence of fact-based and data-driven debate on gun safety on college campuses.  We call upon President Fenves to respond to Faculty Council and GunFreeUT requests to establish an institute for the study of gun safety at UT-Austin.  Such a center would make a positive contribution to the study of guns on college campuses and attract some of the best researchers on gun safety to our campus rather than repelling some of its best minds.

The longer President Fenves and the Regents wait to implement the common sense and campus community-supported ban of concealed guns on campus, the more disruptive it will be for our educational mission.  GunFreeUT will oppose the intrusion of guns into our educational spaces by legal actions guided by the best advice we can obtain.  Students and faculty are also planning numerous direct actions.  As faculty, we would prefer to invest all of our energy and talents into what we do best: teach Texas’s young adults, produce world-class research, and fulfill the university’s core mission.  As students, we would prefer to focus on our studies and future careers.  As staff, we would prefer to propel the university to new heights.  Let us keep guns off campus and keep building the university of the 21st century for the State of Texas.

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

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.


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.


“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)


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


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)


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


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


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


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


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


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


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”


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.


Coordinators for: UT Graduate Students Against Classroom Carry

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

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Press Release: Gun-Free UT hosting teach-in on campus carry


Download PDF: Gun-Free UT Holding Teach-In announcement


AUSTIN, TX, January 20, 2016 — As 2016 kicks off with more private universities rejecting campus carry, Gun-Free UT has decided to start the new semester at UT-Austin with a Teach-In this Friday, January 22, from 2-5pm at the Glickman Conference Center, CLA 1.302.B.

Organized by Gun-Free UT, the Teach-In will cover the multitude of issues around this controversial law and offer relevant insight, if not answers, to such questions as: What is Campus Carry? How will Campus Carry affect you & your friends? Will guns make you safer or less safe? How can you defend yourself without guns?
“This Teach-In is a phenomenal multi-disciplinary event that will bring together great minds from across the University to ask challenging questions and further assert UT-Austin’s historical role as the epicenter of the movement against guns on campus,” says Ellen Spiro, professor of Radio-TV-Film and an Emmy-winning filmmaker. “Guns serve no purpose on campus other than to intimidate. Gun-Free UT is committed to amplifying the voices of our community and to not be silent in the face of the injustice of Campus Carry. Guns and education do not mix.”

A number of esteemed UT-Austin academics, whose expertise runs the gamut from gun- control issues and psychology to women’s self-defense and African studies, will be part of the Teach-In, including Matt Valentine, Plan II coordinator and contributor to The Atlantic, Salon and other publications; Cole Hutchison, associate professor of English and member of the Campus Carry Working Group; Kevin Foster, associate professor of African & African Diaspora Studies; Becky Bigler, professor of pyschology and director of the Child Research Lab; George Schorn, author of Smile at Strangers and an expert on women’s self-defense; Kate Catterall, associate professor of design and teacher of a course on Campus Carry & Design; and Yasmiyn Irizarry, assistant professor of African & African Diaspora Studies. Also participating is Danielle Vabner, a UT undergraduate and sister of Noah Vabner, who was killed in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012.

Gun-Free UT is a broad coalition of faculty, students, staff, parents and alumni opposed to allowing guns in campus buildings. Since its founding in August 2015, Gun-Free UT has become a statewide movement, garnering national and international attention. Thousands at UT campuses from El Paso to the Rio Grande Valley to Tyler have joined in the fight to keep concealed firearms out of dorms, classrooms and offices. For more information on Gun- FreeUT’s legal position, click here.

Gun-Free UT Teach-in

Let’s start the new semester by continuing the conversation on Campus Carry with a Teach-In!

WHEN:   Friday, January 22, 2-5 pm
WHERE:  Glickman Conference Center, CLA 1.302B

Download printable flyer

Confirmed speakers include:

Matt Valentine, Plan II coordinator and contributor tor The Atlantic and other publications

Cole Hutchison, Associate Professor of English and member of the Campus Carry Working Group

Becky Bigler, Professor of Psychology and Director of the Child Research Lab

Matt Richardson, Associate Professor of English and African and African Diaspora Studies

Danielle Vabner, student

Yasmiyn Irizarry, Assistant Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies

George Schorn, author of Smile at Strangers and expert on women’s self-defense

Kate Catterall, Associate Professor of Design and teacher of a course on Campus Carry and design

Kevin Foster, Associate Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies


2:00-2:15   Opening Remarks and Introductions:   Ann Cvetkovich with Matt Richardson
2:15-3:30  What We Need to Know About Gun Culture:  Becky Bigler, Matt Valentine, Cole Hutchison, Yasmiyn Irizarry
3:30-3:40  Break
3:40-3:45  Introductions:  Lisa Moore with Danielle Vabner
3:45-4:45 What We Can Do About Gun Culture:  George Schorn, Kate Catterall, Kevin Foster
4:45-5:15  General Discussion

What is Campus Carry?
Do you have questions about the law?
How will campus carry affect you and your friends?
Will guns make you safer or less safe?
How can you defend yourself without guns?

March for Gun-Free Campuses, January 8

MLA v.2


DATE: Friday, January 8, 2016
PLACE:  1:30pm Gather in Griffin Hall on the 2nd floor of the JW Marriott, 110 E. 2nd Street
1:45pm March from JW Marriott to Capitol Steps South
3:00pm Book Building and Rally on Capitol Steps South

PURPOSE: Send a message to the Texas State Legislature and UT Administration: Keep guns out of our campuses. All who oppose the carrying of guns in campus buildings are  welcome.

Facebook Event Page
Download Flyer
Contact the organizers

Support Gun Free UT! Buy a T-Shirt to Wear To the March!


In June 2015, the Texas state legislature passed Senate Bill 11, which threatens to force public colleges and universities in Texas to allow concealed handguns in campus buildings. The UT Campus Carry Working Group, which was charged with making policy recommendations to UT-Austin President Fenves, has concluded that under S. B. 11, UT must allow concealed handguns in the classroom. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has publicized his opinion that under S. B. 11 it will be illegal to ban handguns from student dorms.

Texas colleges and universities overwhelmingly oppose this law. Private colleges and universities are allowed to ‘opt out’ of S.B. 11, and most have. Over 1500 UT faculty and over 1800 UT graduate students have signed petitions against allowing guns in classrooms. UT’s Campus Carry Working Group state in their own report that not one of their members thinks guns should be allowed in college classrooms.

Nationwide, academic institutions and organizations agree. On November 30, the Modern Language Association (MLA)–the primary professional organization for American college and university faculty who teach modern languages & literatures–joined 28 other American scholarly societies in a public statement opposing campus carry laws on the grounds that they pose a threat to freedom of expression and to campus safety.

The Modern Language Association holds its annual convention in Austin from January 7-10, 2016. Gun-Free UT, with the co-sponsorship of the MLA, has organized the March Against Gun-Free Campuses in conjunction with the convention. Before UT-Austin President Fenves acts on the Campus Carry Working Group’s recommendations, and before S. B. 11 takes effect on August 1, 2016, we invite all MLA convention attendees, all those who work and study in Texas’s colleges and universities, and all concerned citizens to come together to defend the public’s right to a gun-free university.


All who believe that guns do not belong on college and university campuses are welcome to participate in the March for Gun-Free Campuses. You need not be affiliated with a university or a member of MLA.

Participants will gather at 1:30pm on Friday, January 8, 2016 in Griffin Hall on the second floor of the JW Marriott (110 E. 2nd street, Austin TX), where the president of the Modern Language Association, Professor Roland Greene of Stanford University, will speak about campus carry from a national perspective. At 1:45, we will leave the Marriott and parade down Congress Avenue carrying books. When we reach the Capitol steps, we will use these books to build a symbolic gun exclusion zone. If you have a spare book that you would like to use to build the zone, please bring it with you. Make sure it is a book you can afford to lose. Given our limited time at the Capitol, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to reunite all the books used to build the Zone with their individual owners.

From inside the zone, speakers will read from texts that they have discussed in a classroom, and speak about why these texts must be taught in a gun-free environment.


Click this link to pre-order a Gun-Free UT T-shirt, which can be picked up at Griffin Hall prior to the march. “No Campus Carry” buttons will be available for free at the MLA convention and in Griffin Hall. We invite participants in the March for Gun-Free Campuses to wear orange (the color adopted by Everytown For Gun Safety and Moms Demand Gun Sense in America), or one of the orange armbands available in Griffin Hall.

If you would like to get involved with the march, or if you have questions about it, please contact the organizers at .

Responses to the report of the Campus Carry Working Group at UT Austin

GunFreeUT, December 10, 2015

Responses to the report of the Campus Carry Working Group at UT Austin

We categorically reject the recommendation that guns should be allowed in classrooms  This recommendation is based on the concern that gun carriers attending class would need to store their weapons and the act of storing them could pose a hazard  If gun carriers feel unsafe in storing their weapons, they should leave them at home.

The purpose of the university is education and the creation of new knowledge  Allowing guns in the classroom undermines that purpose by chilling free speech and infringing on academic freedom  The report has utterly failed to recommend policies that will protect these treasured traditions  We will defend our first amendment rights by every legal means possible.

The piecemeal introduction of guns into offices, dormitory public spaces, and married student housing is unwise and unworkable  Guns will inevitably make their way into inappropriate locations and will be impossible to control.

We maintain our original stance and we support the position of the Faculty Council:  Guns do not belong in “classrooms, laboratories, residence halls, university offices, and other spaces of education.”

Finally, we would like to move this discussion to a deeper and more profound level  The purported purpose of “campus carry” is for people to feel safe—they could defend themselves if necessary  This is a false idea  We need to foster research into ways to reduce gun violence and to make people feel safe without having to carry guns  That means establishing trust between the police and the public, and between the government and the public, so that we are doing the best that we can to protect all citizens.

Link to Campus Carry Policy Working Group Final Report December 2015

Graduate & Professional Students’ Opposition

For Immediate Release

Downloadable File: UT grad student press release 12-1-15

UT-Austin Graduate and Professional Students Declare Opposition to Guns in Classrooms

Austin, TX, December 1, 2015 – 1,787 graduate and professional students from 132 programs in 18 Colleges and Schools at the University of Texas at Austin have signed a petition stating their opposition to SB 11 and sent an open letter to President Fenves and the Board of Regents.

SB 11, also known as “Campus Carry,” will allow concealed handgun license (CHL) holders to carry guns into campus buildings – including classrooms and offices – unless UT- Austin President Gregory Fenves designates them as “exclusion zones.” The online petition will be delivered to President Fenves and the Board of Regents today. Campus Carry is slated to take effect on August 1, 2016.

The graduate students are among the latest University groups to take a public stand against concealed firearms in classrooms and offices, joining more than 1,500 professors and 100 UT staff members in their opposition. In addition, 39 academic departments at the University have released statements opposing SB 11.

Among the latest departments to protest the law is the Department of Chemical Engineering. In their statement, members of the department note that, “We believe that guns in classrooms, laboratories, faculty/advising offices, and collaboration spaces would be unsafe and stifle the free exchange of ideas central to a world-class university…We also fear that SB11 may damage our ability to recruit and retain the most capable students, faculty and staff.”

Also taking an official position against SB11 are 29 American Scholarly Societies. Their combined statement notes that, “Our societies are concerned that the Campus Carry law [in Texas] and similar laws in other states introduce serious safety threats on college campuses with a resulting harmful effect on students and professors.”

In addition, 40 national professional associations have published statements opposing Texas’ Campus Carry law. The American Association of University Professors, the American Federation of Teachers, the Association of American Colleges and Universities, and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges issued a joint statement denouncing SB 11.

The UT-Austin Graduate Student Petition is affiliated with Gun-Free UT, a broad coalition of faculty, staff, students, parents and alumni of the University of Texas-Austin who are opposed to guns on campus and in campus buildings. Gun-Free UT’s petition on has collected more than 8,400 signatures.