Professor emeritus says campus carry law will discourage other professors from coming to UT

Nashwa Bawab and Caleb Wong

In a recent resignation letter to President Gregory Fenves, a UT professor emeritus said the new campus carry law would diminish the university’s ability to attract new faculty.

The new campus carry law, which has received backlash from UT professors and currently has a working group deciding university-specific regulations, will take effect on Aug. 1 2016.

According to economics professor Daniel Hamermesh, the new law will lower the quality of higher education in Texas because it will discourage talented professors from teaching at universities that allow guns on campus. Hamermesh had retired in 2014 and agreed with the economics department to teach classes in fall 2015, fall 2016 and fall 2017, but said in his letter he will not return to teach after this semester.

“This just makes UT a less attractive place, and people we want to recruit have lots of alternatives,” Hamermesh said. “I think it’s going to make it very much harder to hire faculty, and essentially what the legislature did was worsen the quality of higher education in the state of Texas.”

UT spokesperson Gary Susswein said he appreciates that Hamermesh wrote his letter to Fenves because it is important for students and professors to raise their concerns about the concealed-carry law.

“The concern we have heard from Professor Hamermesh is similar to what we’ve heard from other professors and from students as well,” Susswein said. “We hear what they are saying and we understand their concerns and that’s why it is important that we all work collaboratively to help develop these regulations.”

Susswein said although opinions are important in the regulation process of the campus carry law, the legislation prohibits the university from prohibiting concealed-carry guns on campus.

“We are not allowed, under state law, to prohibit guns on campus, but the conversations that we’re having now and the heartfelt concerns being raised by Dr. Hamermesh and others are an important part of this process right now,” Susswein said.

Madison Yandell, government junior and president of College Republicans, said she thinks the law could cause an issue when recruiting professors who do not understand Texas culture, but once the law is implemented, more people will come to the realization that life can go on as normal. Yandell she understands why professors may have similar concerns to Hamermesh’s but thinks the law should still be implemented the way the legislature intended.

“It definitely is a concern that in an attempt to appease the faculty and staff that they’re just going to make this law as strict as possible but a lot of things that the anti-campus carry people are trying to advocate for are really not feasible in the way the law is written,” Yandell said. “We have pretty good faith that they’re going to apply this law on campus in the spirit that the legislature had when they passed this bill.”

Hamermesh said he does not think what he did was an act of protest, but rather a sensible reaction to what he claims could be a dangerous law.

“What I hope to accomplish is nothing — I just want everything to be ethically correct,” Hamermesh said. “What I hope happens, not because of me, is that Texas can do something and try to repeal that law, but until then I hope that on campus, the gun law is as restricted as possible.”