Student engagement critical for working group

Claire Smith

On August 20, President Gregory L. Fenves announced the formation of a working group that is tasked with determining how campus carry will be implemented at UT-Austin next August. Students, a stereotypically apathetic group, can no longer play into this role and must become the University’s leaders on this issue through public forums and surveys throughout this semester.

Since a campus carry bill was first filed in the Texas Legislature in November, student bodies and university faculties across Texas have roundly rebutted the asinine law. Countless town hall-style meetings, SG debates and resolutions, one on-campus demonstration organized by student group Students Against Guns on Campus and a petition signed by student leaders across the state whose representation totaled over 285,000 students have all created one enormous pushback against the measure from across the state.

Students could not have been clearer: We are against guns on campus. This was not enough for state leaders, who passed and signed the law anyway. Students must make it enough this time around, on our campus and with the working group.

Students have the power to effect great change on this campus. This summer, the debate over the Jefferson Davis statue and other Confederate statuary effected change, simply because the student body chose to show up and participate in the debate, in addition to their diligence in filling out the task force’s survey and signing online petitions. Students’ sheer force of will made a change. Students cannot let that be the last time.

Do it again. Attend the working group’s public forums, the dates of which are soon to be announced. Participate in the working group’s survey. Engagement is the only way to show the working group what representing the student population looks like. When you have a stake in this debate and a chance to make a difference, do not pass it by.

The University of Texas at Austin is the flagship institution of the UT System, and whichever limitations Fenves decides will likely determine the policies of other UT System schools, if not the entire System. So students should take the working group to task and work to represent UT’s student population and those of other UT System schools. We have the potential to drive this conversation and determine the policies that will govern this campus; do not pass it by. This is of life-and-death importance. That is worth showing up for. That is worth fighting for.

Smith is a history and humanities major from Austin. Follow her on Twitter @claireseysmith.