Classroom gun bans will lead to disciplinary action according to UT handbook

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Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

Banning guns in classrooms is not allowed at UT, and if a faculty member is found to have done this, they will face disciplinary action from the University, according to the UT handbook of operating procedures.

Faculty members are not allowed to ban students from carrying their concealed weapons, but they can ban handguns from their office if they choose to. 

An oral notice is the only legal way for professors to notify students their office is a gun-free zone. 

Banning handguns from classrooms would prohibit students from exercising their right to carry, which would violate state law, according to campus carry policies.

The UT System has rules in place for dismissal when professors violate University policies.

“The University will examine individual cases as they arise,” said J.B. Bird, director of media outreach at UT.

If after an investigation a faculty member is found to be “engaging in conduct that warrants disciplinary action,” they will meet with the University president to discuss the allegations, and the faculty member will be given time to respond and make their case for violating System policy.

Graduate students who do not have their own office do not have the option to hold gun-free office hours.

Several members of the Graduate Student Assembly will begin to hold office hours at Hole in the Wall because it is one of the venues near campus where guns are not allowed. 

Since 1995, when Texas began to allow people to obtain a concealed handgun license, license-holders have been able to carry guns on campus grounds but not in buildings. Campus carry, which was implemented on campus on Aug. 1, allows license-holders to concealed carry in buildings. 

In July, three professors sued the University in order to ban concealed carry in classrooms. 

The professors argued campus carry would stunt classroom discussion and that it was a violation of their right to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment because it required professors to allow guns in their classroom.

A federal judge denied their request two days before the beginning of the fall semester, stating the professors had failed to establish a likelihood of success on their claim of equal protection.

“The potential presence of loaded lethal weapons in our classrooms will do harm to the free speech rights of the faculty and their students,” said Stephen Wechsler, linguistics professor and member of Gun Free UT, said in an email. “The judge’s decision specifically states that the court ‘makes no final ruling on any asserted issue.’ We look forward to the trial when we can present all the evidence.” 

Computer science professor Gordon Novak does not believe guns belong on campus because of his past experience with students that showed signs of mental illness.

“A student comes to my office to discuss why they are failing; I see that they are depressed, and I send them to the Student Health Center to get help,” Novak said in an email. “Students who get depressed often attempt suicide. Without a gun, they usually fail, and the attempt serves as a call for help. With a gun, they succeed.”