The English Department on Campus Carry

The faculty, staff, and Emeriti of Department of English at the University of Texas at Austin strongly oppose the “campus carry” bill, Senate Bill 11. We believe that the presence of guns in classrooms, dormitories, and faculty offices is not only unsafe but will inhibit the free exchange of ideas and viewpoints that is integral to a university. The Texas Constitution mandates a “University of the first class,” but this law will damage our ability to recruit and retain the best students and faculty from across Texas, the nation, and the world. Continue reading The English Department on Campus Carry

Anthropology – Statement on Pending Campus Carry Law

Department of Anthropology Faculty
Statement on Pending Campus Carry Law and its Implementation

October 15, 2015

Anthropologists study human cultural and biological variation and the impact of such variation on behavior and society. Our research and pedagogy challenges our students and the public to engage actively and openly with sometimes controversial ideas concerning race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, inequality, religion, evolution, and other topics. To do so demands an environment where issues can be discussed freely, without fear of threat, intimidation, or violence.

Thus, we, the undersigned faculty members of the Department of Anthropology at UT Austin, are compelled to comment on the campus carry law, SB11, and its proposed implementation, which could allow Concealed Handgun License holders to bring guns into our classrooms, offices, laboratories, dormitories, student unions, and other buildings.

In our view, the risks associated with permitting concealed guns to be taken into campus buildings – particularly into spaces of learning where freedom of speech and expression without the threat of violence is critical – overwhelmingly outweigh the benefits. Our students and faculty – like many across campus – have told us that they will not be comfortable teaching about or discussing controversial subjects if they think there might be a gun in the room. The possible presence of concealed guns in campus buildings will create an environment of fear, which inhibits learning and effective teaching, and will have a chilling effect on free speech, open dialog, and academic freedom. We believe that such an atmosphere would be hugely detrimental to the university’s ability to fulfill its mission.

Moreover, as our colleagues in other social science departments have noted, there is no compelling evidence that the presence of concealed guns on campus will promote student safety, and ample reason to believe that it will lead to harm. We strenuously object to this law, and we urge the Task Force and the university administration to make the strongest possible case for excluding concealed guns from campus buildings. Continue reading Anthropology – Statement on Pending Campus Carry Law

Latin American Studies Association statement against Campus Carry

The Latin American Studies Association joins the American Political Science Association (APSA) in its deep concern about the impact of 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.  LASA stands with APSA in its concern that the Campus Carry law and similar laws in other states might introduce serious safety threats on college campuses with a resulting harmful effect on professors and students and the free expression of ideas.

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Statement from The Department of Spanish and Portuguese

We, the faculty, graduate students, and staff members of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese oppose the presence of concealed firearms in our classrooms, offices and social spaces. We strongly believe that concealed guns should not be allowed in any building, or on the perimeters of the campus of the University of Texas, Austin. We further believe that our main goal as a public Research One institution is the fostering of education, critical thinking, and professionalization of students. As an intellectual community, we simply reject the premise that guns will make our classrooms, offices, and social spaces safer.

In the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, our main goal is to educate and train our students to develop new knowledge about the languages, literatures and cultures of the Iberian and Latin American regions, their related diasporas, and their Indigenous, African, and Asian cultures. We would like to continue doing so in an atmosphere of mutual respect and without the threat posed by guns in our classrooms. As a racially, culturally, ethnically, and sexually diverse department, we are aware of the social-power dynamics behind gun culture and the potentially disruptive and dangerous state of affairs the law allowing concealed weapons in campus buildings will bring to our courses, pedagogies, freedom of speech and finally, our security and lives. Continue reading Statement from The Department of Spanish and Portuguese

GUNS AND PHALLUSES

DRAFT, 10/15/15
FOR DISCUSSION ONLY

By Edwin Dorn

Senate Bill 11, the new Texas law that allows holders of concealed handgun licenses to bring their weapons into university buildings, is a very bad idea.  What could our legislators have been thinking when they voted for it?

They must have fantasized that someone who has spent a Sunday afternoon in a concealed handgun class will be able to out-shoot a homicidal maniac who walks into a classroom, guns blazing.  I can think of at least one thing that would be worse than having a crazed shooter in my classroom: getting caught in crossfire between a crazed shooter and a pistol-packing neophyte.

My worry is based on an honest assessment of my own abilities.  Having spent much of my youth on a farm, I learned to shoot a gun before I learned to ride a bicycle.  While in the Army, I became proficient with a .45 pistol, and I’ve fired many rounds from .38 revolvers and 9mm semi-automatics.  Those experiences have led me to speculate that I might be able to neutralize a shooter if he were standing motionless less than 30 feet from me and if there were no distractions – no students running for cover and screaming in panic, for example.  If those ideal conditions did not apply, the likelihood of collateral damage would be high.  Also, when the cops showed up, the likelihood of their shooting me would be high, even if I shouted “Hey, I’m the good guy!”

The law allows university presidents to create a limited number of gun-free zones on their campuses.  UT-Austin President Greg Fenves has appointed a committee, chaired by law school professor Steven Goode, to recommend where those areas should be.  Here’s my guess: guns will be prohibited in mental health clinics and in laboratories where volatile chemicals are used.  However, guns are not likely to be excluded from ordinary classrooms where students are discussing, say, whether confederate leader Jefferson Davis should have been hanged for treason.

Still, the law is the law.  Rather than defy it, I have decided to use it as a case study in how (and how not) to make public policy.  At the beginning of every semester, I will invite my students to discuss the following announcement: Continue reading GUNS AND PHALLUSES

“It’s a remarkable and courageous stand that so many people at UT Austin have spoken out against this legislation.”

– Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives, on the opposition to Campus Carry

The American Political Science Association speaks out on Campus Carry

The American Political Science Association, the professional association for political scientists, has issued the following statement:

The American Political Science Association 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 2016, allows licensed handgun carriers to bring concealed handguns into buildings on Texas campuses. The APSA is 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 professors and students.

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Psychology Faculty Statement on Campus Carry

Department of Psychology Faculty
Statement on Pending Campus Carry Law
October 11, 2015

Psychologists study the determinants of human behavior, including causes of, and responses to, violent behavior.  Thus, we, the undersigned faculty members of the Department of Psychology at UT-Austin, feel it is important for us to comment on the pending campus carry law.  In our view, there is no reasonable justification for permitting concealed guns to be taken into campus buildings. There is no empirical evidence whatsoever that the presence of concealed guns on campus will promote student safety, and ample reason to believe that it will lead to harm. Shootings give rise to situations marked by panic, confusion, and terror, conditions under which judgment, especially among individuals who are untrained and inexperienced in such situations, is impaired. Because we are personally and professionally committed to promoting the physical and mental wellbeing of children, adolescents, and adults, we strenuously object to this law and to the presence of concealed guns in campus buildings. Continue reading Psychology Faculty Statement on Campus Carry

Sociology Department on Campus Carry

We, the undersigned faculty of the Department of Sociology, wish to express our objection to the campus-carry legislation set to take effect in August of next year.  We believe that the policy is inconsistent with the core mission of the university – the free and unfettered exchange of ideas – and that it is not supportable by empirical social-scientific evidence.  Our faculty includes several nationally-recognized authorities in criminology and criminal justice who have been active in national public policy for many years.  None of them believes that the campus–carry policy will make our campus safer, or that it is sound public policy informed by empirical research.  Most members of the American Society of Criminology – the national professional organization of criminologists – would agree that more guns at UT does not mean more safety (see the roster of members on the ASC website).

One of our members recently encountered a large sign on the entrance to an Austin-area medical clinic.  It read as follows:  “Pursuant to section 30.06 penal code (trespass by holder of license to carry a concealed handgun), A person licensed under subchapter H, chapter 411, government code (concealed handgun law), may not enter this property with a concealed handgun.”  It seems to us that the reasons it would be unwise to carry weapons into a medical clinic apply with equal force to a college campus, where there are thousands of young people with still-developing minds.  College campuses, in fact, are among the safer environments to be found in the United States.  There are occasional, well-publicized murders or mass murders on campuses, but as hazards, they are statistically rare events.  It makes little sense to jeopardize what are among the most respected institutions in our society (indeed, in the world).  Implementing this legislation would not result in an immediate rash of shootings on campus.  For one thing, there are already guns on campus.  But by encouraging more, perhaps many more, firearms on campus, the legislation will create a risk that is unnecessary and at odds with our efforts as educators.

The issue of guns on campus is particularly important to sociologists because so many of the issues we discuss in the classroom – poverty, crime, race/ethnicity, the family, gender — can arouse strong emotions and sometimes even conflict.  Adding firearms to this mix could be dangerous and could discourage open discussion by students and faculty, the very heart of our enterprise. Continue reading Sociology Department on Campus Carry

Forty-three Historians have signed this statement against Campus Carry

Historians study changes in society and human behavior over time, including changes in the law and justifications for those changes. Thus, we, the undersigned faculty members of the Department of History at UT-Austin, feel it is important for us to comment on the implementation of the law allowing Concealed Handgun License holders to bring guns into our classrooms, offices, dormitories and other buildings. In our view, there is no reasonable justification for permitting concealed guns to be taken into campus buildings. Studies that link the drop in crime rates to the rise of gun ownership have been shown to be deeply flawed and to prove that the presence of guns do not make us safer. Our colleagues at Texas A&M have convincingly shown that CHLs have no impact on crime rates. Gun advocates argue that we should trust responsible gun owners to handle their guns safely in our classrooms, but they ignore the fact that the possible presence of guns will undermine our ability to teach. Students and faculty alike have told us that they will not be comfortable discussing controversial subjects if they think there might be a gun in the room.  The Texas Legislature has imposed this law on our university community against the majority’s very explicit opposition to it. For all these reasons, we strenuously object to this law and to the presence of concealed guns in campus buildings. Continue reading Forty-three Historians have signed this statement against Campus Carry

Armed with Reason