Last week, two bullet casings were found around campus and a third was found atop a defaced anti-campus carry sign. The sign, originally for Gun Free UT, was defaced with the cryptic message: “In the land of the pigs, the butcher is king. Oink… Oink… Oink…” These discoveries come almost two months after campus carry went into effect at UT, and in that short time, campus conversation over the legislation has vanished.
Now, left with cryptic messages that neither side of the issue will claim as their own but are heavily speculated to be coming from the pro-campus carry side, the conversation around the issue has reached a breaking point. Even if the bullet casings and the messages are coming from the pro-campus carry side, their message is still unclear. The only clear message is that the conversation over campus carry needs to continue.
The first week of classes saw protests from both sides of the issue, coupled with a town hall where both viewpoints were heard and an attempt to foster conversation was made. But in the weeks following, the conversation has become unproductive. It’s picked up again with the reports of the bullet casings being found on campus and with the news that Ray LaMontagne canceled his Bass Concert Hall show over safety concerns brought up by campus carry. But neither of these instances have fostered a substantive dialogue over the issue; they’ve only added to the growing confusion and unrest.
To prevent further incidents along the lines of the bullet casings left on campus from occurring, UT needs to facilitate a conversation with the student body about the new legislation and how to adapt to the changes it has brought. The town hall was a good idea, but it didn’t provoke a longer conversation and didn’t allow for enough student voices to be heard. Open forums with members of student government, the UTPD and members of the UT administration should occur on a weekly basis to address student concerns and continue the dialogue about the changes created by the new legislation.
Gun violence is an omnipresent problem in America. On Monday, a man in a Nazi uniform shot nine people in Houston. Last Friday, a man shot and killed five people in a mall in Washington. On a campus where concealed carry is legal, and in a country where mass shootings are increasingly common, a discussion of the safety measures around and logistics of the campus carry legislation is the least we can do.
Berdainer is a philosphy junior from Boulder, Colorodo. Follow her on Twitter @eberdanier.