Department of Theatre and Dance Statement on Campus Carry

The undersigned faculty members of the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of Texas-Austin, are opposed to the law allowing Concealed Handgun License holders to bring guns into our classrooms, offices, dormitories and other buildings. As artists and scholars of the arts our work challenges audiences—our students and the general public of all ages, including K-12 students—to immerse themselves in controversial ideas concerning race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, inequality, religion, nation, justice, and many other controversial topics. Additionally, artistic work is created by building connections among people—within ensembles and between performers and audience members. This can only be achieved through mutual trust in one another and confidence in our safety. In order to prepare and present our work we need to work within an environment where these ideas can be rehearsed and debated freely and energetically, without fear of threat, intimidation, or violence.

During the creative process, students artists often work in close proximity to each other and make bodily contact with other students, the floor and set pieces.  The dangers of having firearms during choreography and contact movement exercises are excessive. The Actor’s Equity Association (the union that covers theatrical performers and stage managers) rules prohibit artists from carrying prop firearms except in the presence of a technician educated in their use and safety. In order to prepare our students for their professional work we must educate them in the workings of their professions. Allowing them to engage in dangerous behavior will not make them competitive beyond the university.

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. Guns will undermine our ability to teach our students if they have to fear for their safety. Students, staff, 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.  For all these reasons, we strenuously object to this law and to the presence of concealed guns in campus buildings.

Megan Alrutz, Assistant Professor
Charles Anderson, Associate Professor
Jeremy Arnold, Lecturer
Ellen Bartel, Adjunct Professor
Andrea Beckham, Senior Lecturer
Lawrence Bennett, Lecturer
Charlotte Canning, Professor
Quetta Carpenter, Lecturer
Rusty Cloyes,Head of Stage Management
Jeremy Lee Cudd, Lecturer
Tina Curren, Lecturer
Katie Dawson, Assistant Professor
S. J. Dietz, Professor
Lara Dossett, Lecturer
Liz Engelman, Lecturer
Laura Gutiérrez, Associate Professor
Michelle Habeck, Associate Professor
Richard M. Isackes, Emeritus
David Justin, Associate Professor
Kirk E Lynn, Assistant Professor
Sara L. Paul, Lecturer
Robert Ramirez, Associate Professor
Rebecca Rossen, Associate Professor
Yakov Sharir, Professor Emeritus
Franchelle Stewart Dorn, Professor
Pirronne Yousefzadeh, Lecturer

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