This past February, I took a seat in the Texas Capitol building at an open hearing on SB 11, or the “campus carry” bill that was passed in the Texas Legislature this summer. This quickly descended into half a dozen old, white men ranting to college-aged females like myself why I must allow guns at my school.
I’ll be able to protect myself now, I was told. Females in college are among the most likely to experience rape or assault, and now, with more guns, I’ll be safer.
My outrage was quick to come after the initial shock of such blatant ignorance. In what world was encouraging the presence of more firearms on campus intended to make me feel more secure? What level of misunderstanding towards campus sexual assault was being used to defend such rash measures? And most importantly, why were these men speaking on behalf of what college-age females wanted? Where was my voice?
I can — figuratively speaking — shoot a hole through their logic fairly quickly by stating the simple fact that I’m 19. Texas requires a licensed CHL holder to be at least 21 years of age. For three years of our college experience, we poor, defenseless females are not legally allowed to carry weapons for protection. But with the passing of SB 11, who will be legally carrying concealed guns? Potential predators.
Additionally, the rape culture described by proponents for campus carry is not reflected in research. Nine out of 10 victims of sexual assaults knew their offenders beforehand. Dr. John D. Foubert from Oklahoma State University explains that “If you have a rape situation, usually it starts with some sort of consensual behavior, and by the time it switches to nonconsensual, it would be nearly impossible to run for a gun.” The propaganda at the Texas Capitol did not address reality, but rather an archaic perception of how and where sexual assaults are actually being perpetrated.
I sat silently fuming in my seat. I was surrounded by UT Students Against Campus Carry supporters, most of us college-age females, and yet our presence in the room was being completely ignored.
Campus carry comes at another cost; it will deter remarkable professors who make our school so prestigious from continuing or pursing positions here. Just this week, longtime economics professor Daniel Hamermesh announced that after this semester he will no longer be teaching at UT due to his discomfort with the campus’ new concealed carry policy.
Sociology professor Javier Auyero recently published an article doubling down on this exact point. Auyero writes, “Shouldn’t I tell prospective students and faculty that I am, in fact, profoundly afraid and that they should think twice about coming to the University of Texas? If we are honest, the law will effectively prevent us from recruiting highly sought-after faculty and students.”
As strong, intelligent, college educated women, we will not be provoked by fear or ignorance into endorsing unconscionable politics. And out of respect to our professors, faculty and community, we should preserve the sanctity of a secure learning environment in a way that allows people to feel comfortable and safe. Let’s stand up for safety and get guns off our campus.
Conwisar is a government sophomore from Los Angeles.