UT students and professors testify against campus carry

Eleanor Dearman

College students and professors, including several from UT, attended a House committee hearing Tuesday to express opposition to campus carry.

Grant Willson, a UT chemistry and chemical engineering professor, said he believes allowing students to carry guns on campus could inhibit professors’ ability to grade fairly.

“There are numerous examples of students who are emotionally charged as a result of [grades] that they get,” Willson said. “If I look out there and see that they are all sitting out there with holsters and guns, I’m not sure I will have the guts to give a grade below a  ‘B’ again. It’s just not a reasonable environment for teaching.”

Thomas Sovik, a music history professor at the University of North Texas, argued in favor of campus carry. He said he believes carrying a gun on campus could help protect him from upset students.

Siddharth Desai, engineering senior and teaching assistant said he thinks guns in the classroom would put TAs, professors and students at risk. Desai was among six UT students who testified at the hearing.

“The classroom is a high-stress environment,” Desai said at the hearing. “As a student, I’ve been under stress at times, and as a teaching assistant, I’ve been the one delivering bad news and being the source of stress to students. Weapons do not belong in that interaction in any way.”

Student Government Vice President-elect Rohit Mandalapu, a Plan II senior, also testified at the hearing. He said SG will continue to oppose campus carry, along with Faculty Council, Chancellor William McRaven and President William Powers Jr.

“All of these people are against concealed carry on campus, and we ask why this decision is being made here in this room instead of at the institutions themselves, when we’re the ones being affected by this,” Mandalapu said.

Mandalapu said he thinks the implementation of campus carry would discourage students from attending state universities like UT.

“I also think that if guns were allowed on campus, that would be a big safety decision that would have factored into my decision to come to UT when I applied four years ago,” Mandalapu said.