UT President Gregory Fenves discussed campus carry at his first Faculty Council Executive Committee meeting Monday.
At the meeting, Fenves said UT System Chancellor William McRaven wants any gun rules passed to have consistency among all 14 UT System institutions. Fenves must submit his preliminary plan by Dec. 4 and said he will be working with the UT community to make sure safety is addressed and is made a priority.
“Campus carry passed. It is state law,” Fenves said. “As president of a university, as head of a state agency, I am responsible for carrying out the law, and we will do that in a responsible way, and of course, the safety of all members of our community is of the utmost importance, and how we address that safety and comply with the law is the work of this task group that we have put together.”
The Campus Carry Policy Group is meeting weekly to discuss the work of their subgroups for safety and security, communication and training, reviewing online comments and proactive measures, according to Steven Goode, chair of the committee and UT law professor. The UT System Working Group is also meeting weekly to identify “consensus exclusion zones,” which would be places that are gun-free zones throughout the UT System, according to Goode.
Goode said he has looked through 2,500 comments through a survey released online by the University and believes more time is needed to clarify misunderstandings about the law.
“Fifteen to 20 percent of the comments said, ‘No open carry on campus,’” Goode said. “I’ll make it clear — this law does not allow open carry on campus. Senate Bill 11 deals with concealed carry of handguns by licensed holders on campus. House Bill 9-10 deals with open carry by handguns throughout the state, but that bill specifically excludes universities.”
According to Goode, the bill also states a person must have a license to carry a concealed handgun on campus and must be older than 21 to obtain that license, although there is no way for UTPD to know which students have licenses. Goode said about 500 students older than 21 live in UT residential halls, and he estimates that less than 1 percent of students have a license to carry. The bill does not affect fraternity houses, sorority houses or other private residential facilities, and it is still illegal if a person is in possession of their handgun while intoxicated.
On Monday, Gun-Free UT started a petition on change.org opposing the campus carry bill. The petition is addressed to Gov. Greg Abbott and has more than 200 supporters.
Anthropology and government senior Jordan Acosta, who signed the petition, said she does not think there are enough screening procedures in place for those who purchase guns.
“In my opinion, it was irresponsible to the highest degree for such a law to be passed,” Acosta said. “I don’t think there is much that can be done after the fact, but if there is enough pushback on the issue, I believe UT can truly show its colors as a flagship school that has a young, thinking population that doesn’t just accept certain mandates simply because it was written by Texas legislatures.”