Fifty years to the day that Charles Whitman climbed the UT tower and carried out what was, until last month, the worst mass shooting in modern US history, the University of Texas at Austin will implement a Campus Carry policy that allows students 21 and older to carry concealed weapons on campus, in accordance with Texas law.
I can’t thank Professors Jennifer Lynn Glass, Lisa Moore, and Mia Carter enough for standing up to this. I will also add that as a student I share their concerns. I would feel intimidated by a student carrying a weapon in the classroom and feel it would inhibit free and open discussion of sensitive subjects, thereby limiting the education I have paid for and have come to expect.
Furthermore, while I may be able to hold my tongue if I sense danger, I will be unable to prevent another student from saying something that may upset the carrying student.
Students are under pressure. Many are not experienced in handling the pressures presented by exams and grades, academic and career expectations, the pressures of being a young adult and the attendant challenges of living away from home, financial stresses, social and romantic entanglements, and more. This is often the most volatile and emotional stage of a person’s life. And the law now states that we can allow them to carry concealed weapons to class.
This is a rights issue and I believe the State of Texas has violated my rights under the First Amendment of the Constitution and under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and that by implementing Campus Carry the University of Texas at Austin has fallen short in at least two of its core principles.
I would like to know how many students feel the same way. Are there enough students to recruit a legal team to sue to uphold our rights also? IS there a legal team willing to launch a challenge on our behalf? Would refusing to sit in a class with a student carrying a weapon put me in breach of my academic contract, or would it force UT and the State of Texas to rethink?
I don’t know the answers. I only know this is a major concern for me.
EDITED FOR ACCURACY – 7/7/16