Graduate Student Assembly, an organization that seeks to represent the opinions of the graduate student community in interactions with UT administration, passed a resolution Wednesday opposing campus carry, which allows those with concealed handgun licenses to carry guns on university campuses in Texas.
According to the resolution, the Graduate Student Assembly strongly opposes concealed handgun license holders bringing concealed weapons into UT classrooms and considers SB 11 to be an ideological bill that is an unnecessary intrusion into an educational environment.
Michael Barnes, chair of the Legislative Affairs Committee of the GSA and educational administration graduate student, said votes at the GSA meeting were unanimous in favor of the resolution.
“We asked GSA members to vote by divided house, which means standing on one side of the room to express opinion,” Barnes said. “It was an opportunity for people to literally take a stand. I think this settles the question of where GSA stands in terms of campus carry.”
Barnes said he hopes this resolution will influence President Fenves’ decision on campus carry implementation.
“We strongly encourage President Fenves to do whatever he can in his power to prevent concealed weapons from being brought into classrooms,” Barnes said. “I think this resolution will provide momentum and will give President Fenves some relief and credibility in making a decision that’s right for the UT community.”
Vance Roper, a graduate student in the LBJ School of Public Affairs and member of the campus carry working group, said he does not think concealed handguns in classrooms are safe for the UT community.
“Several of us in the campus carry working group, including myself, have concealed handgun licenses,” Roper said. “All of us were against handguns in classrooms.”
History graduate student Nicholas Roland said having guns on campus would allow people to defend themselves effectively.
“My stance on this issue is to give people more freedom where we can,” Roland said. “In this case, I would prefer for people to have a broad range of options of self-defense. If you take guns out of the equation, it eliminates a lot of the capability for some people to be able to defend themselves.”
Roland, who attended Virginia Tech as an undergraduate student, said he was a senior at the time of the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 that left 32 dead and more than a dozen injured.
“As much as we want college campuses, schools, and churches to be safe environments, the reality is that there are angry people out there that will want to do harm,” Roland said. “Whatever reasonable restrictions you implement, someone will always be able to carry out an act of evil if they want to. Responsible people who have gone through background checks and training should be able to carry a gun to defend themselves and fellow Longhorns.”
Sahil Bhandari, chemical engineering graduate student and member of GSA, said he hopes GSA will work with other student organizations to bring input to President Fenves.
“I feel the next steps would be to engage other students like the Student Government on the issue and help them voice their opinions on [this issue],” Bhandari said. “We are looking to do what we can to assist President Fenves to better put the students’ opinions in front of Texas legislatures.”