UT President Gregory Fenves notified the University of his decision regarding the policies for campus carry legislation via email Wednesday morning.
After communicating with the campus carry working group and reviewing the law, Fenves said in the email he will not be implementing a policy against handguns in classrooms.
“I do not believe handguns belong on a university campus, so this decision has been the greatest challenge of my presidency to date,” Fenves said in the email. “As a professor, I understand the deep concerns raised by so many. However, as president, I have an obligation to uphold the law.”
The policy document outlines Fenvess’ decision on campus carry adopts all 25 of the recommendations made in the working group report. The document states guns will generally be allowed in common rooms — but not bedrooms — of residence halls.
According to the email, the Campus Carry Implementation Task Force, which will outline the exact details of putting campus carry into effect, is still determining gun-exclusion zones and guidelines for the policy. Fenves said he will monitor the effect of campus carry rules on recruiting faculty, staff and students.
“It has been a very difficult decision balancing legal requirements with maintaining a productive educational environment,” Fenves said at a press conference.
Rachel Osterloh, president of Senate of College Councils and member of the implementation committee, said she would advocate for student safety and education.
“I think once students have all the information, I think anxieties will start to quell,” said Osterloh, a government and philosophy senior.
The policies and procedures of this decision comply with Senate Bill 11, which allows licensed gun holders age 21 or older to carry a concealed handgun on campus. Gov. Greg Abbott signed the bill last June, and the law will take effect Aug. 1, 2016.
Robert Oxford, member of the Graduate Student Assembly, confronted Fenves at the press conference, stating he failed to represent the overwhelming amount of students who spoke out against campus carry. “It’s unfortunate that Greg Fenves is going to set a passive role to the rest of public universities who are looking to him for leadership,” Oxford said. “They might as well be looking to the Texas legislature for guidance.”
Jacob Williamson, member of Students for Concealed Carry, said he was against campus carry before the statistics changed his mind.
“You are more likely to be killed by a vending machine than by someone using a firearm,” said Williamson, an electrical engineering and computer science senior.
UT System Chancellor William McRaven said he expects faculty to comply with campus carry laws.
“What I’m asking the faculty members is: Give us a chance to show that we can address their concerns in a reasonable manner so they do not feel like it is threatening their ability to have a robust debate or their safety,” McRaven recently said to the Senate State Affairs Committee.
SB 11 allows the UT System Board of Regents to modify campus carry rules submitted by UT System institutions by a two-thirds vote. UT System spokesperson Jenny Caputo said the meeting would likely occur sometime between now and May.
Biology junior Horacio Zamora Jr. said he believes firearms in classrooms will negatively impact learning environments.
“Guns in classrooms won’t make me feel safer,” Zamora said. “It’s just a really bad idea altogether.”
The infographic accompanying this article has been updated to reflect that concealed weapons will NOT be allowed at sporting events. We regret this error.