Fall semester begins with student and faculty protests of campus carry

Van Nguyen

Students are tying dildos to their backpacks on the first day of the fall semester in protest of the new campus carry law that went into effect Aug. 1.

Anti-campus carry movement Cocks not Glocks held a pre-rally on Tuesday to hand out more than 4,000 dildos to students protesting on the first day of class. Jessica Jin, founder of Cocks not Glocks, said the protest aims to fight “absurdity with absurdity” and hopes the protest will make people question the normality of carrying concealed handguns on campus.

“When people were fighting [Senate Bill 11] for an entire year before the law passed, they did everything right,” Jin said. “They made thousands of phone calls, they collected thousands of signatures, they testified at the State Capitol, they did everything you’re supposed to do in a democracy to prevent something from happening that a community doesn’t consent to. At this point, I have a feeling change can only come from a bigger, more long-term cultural push.”

Gun Free UT, an anti-campus carry organization consisting of faculty, students, staff and others in the UT community, will also be holding a protest Wednesday from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. which will include guest speakers. State Representative Elliott Naishtat, City Council member Kathie Tovo, Democratic candidate for State Representative Gina Hinojosa and Jin will be among the speakers at the rally.

University rules state that students, faculty members and staff members have the right to assemble and express their opinions. This extends to the Cocks Not Glocks and Gun Free UT protests. Those not affiliated with the University are not allowed to protest on campus. 

“We see peaceful protest as a protected right under the Constitution and will take no action with a peaceful [student or faculty] protest,” said Bob Harkins, associate vice president for campus safety and security.

Open Carry Texas, a pro-campus carry organization not affiliated with UT, will be counter-protesting the Cocks not Glocks protest Wednesday on campus starting
at 8 a.m. 

“We are counter-protesting because pro-gun students want their voices heard as well to show that not everyone at UT is opposed to self defense on campus,” said C.J. Grisham, president and founder of Open Carry Texas. “While we find it extremely vulgar and distasteful, we fully respect [Cock Not Glocks’] right to symbolic protest in the way that group best sees fit.”

Although the group is not a UT organization, if student members decide to protest, they can choose to invite guests according to the Dean of Students Office policies. According to the Open Carry Texas Facebook page, they have UT student members in their organization that will be protesting on campus.

“The University has had past experiences where people who are neither members of the community nor invited guests seek to stage events on University property,” said J.B. Bird, director of media outreach. “In these cases, University staff make sure the people are aware of our rules and encourage them to comply with them.”

After Wednesday’s protest, Jin hopes students will keep carrying dildos on their backpacks until the conversation on gun culture changes and campus carry is overturned. She does not have future plans for Cocks Not Glocks at the moment.

“We’re going to see where the tide takes us,” Jin said. “If there is an opportunity to push the conversation forward here we’ll do it. I’m going to continue to advocate for this cause as long as I can be helpful.”