Graduate students hold gun-free office hours at off-campus bar

Van Nguyen

Anti-campus carry graduate students who don’t have offices of their own will soon begin to host office hours at Hole in the Wall, a bar located on Guadalupe Street across from the University. 

There are currently about six graduate students planning on holding office hours at the bar, according to Lynn Cowles, the events coordinator for Hole in the Wall. 

Cowles received her doctorate in English last December and was a part of the Gun Free UT movement, but her activity with the organization faded as she worked toward completing her dissertation. 

“I talked to our owner and staff and suggested if we could make it a possibility for students to feel like they have support from the community,” Cowles said. 

Cowles said she believes graduate students have already found places to hold office hours but hopes they will consider the bar in the upcoming semester. 

Professors and graduate students can only declare their offices gun-free if they are single-occupancy, according to University policy. Not all graduate students have offices to themselves, so many have to hold their office hours in areas where guns are allowed.

State law dictates that if a business receives 51 percent or more of its income from alcohol, guns are not allowed on the premises.

“Because of the 51 percent rule, no firearms are allowed on this premise,“ said Caroline Heywood, GSA programs and events director.

Hole in the Wall has sectioned off an area for office hours in the connecting Japanese restaurant, Yatai. It is open from 11 a.m. to midnight every day. 

The restaurant area is open to students of all ages, but the bar is restricted to people 21 and older.

The Cactus Cafe located in the Union also doesn’t allow guns because of the 51 percent rule. The Counseling and Mental Health Center is another gun-free location, because it is a patient care zone.

In an open letter sent to President Gregory Fenves last December, the Legislative Affairs Committee of the Graduate Student Assembly voiced their opposition to the law. 

“To date, we have searched for and discovered no graduate student organizations, formal or informal, nor petitions or other instances of students, advocating for firearms in UT classrooms,” the committee wrote. “We believe it is important to note that 1,787 public voices opposed to firearms in UT classrooms may represent a still larger proportion of students who are not yet aware of the petition, or who prefer not to publicly disclose their position on a contentious political issue.”

The staff at Hole in the Wall said their venue is open to University employees to hold meetings and office hours until the campus carry law is reversed.