Friday Firing Lines: Tasers, Regent Wallace Hall, CNS

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So, basically Hall asked for public records. People didn’t like it. They are making him look like a criminal. Shame on them, not Hall. He may be a jerk, but he appears to be the only one concerned about corruption at UT. 

— Online commenter Delahaya in response to the editorial “In fight over UT Regent Wallace Hall, students were forgotten”

 

In effect, this Horns Down waves a flag that says, “we can’t trust our law enforcement with TASER weapons in schools but we can trust them with OC spray, batons AND firearms.”

Law enforcement in schools isn’t there to enforce punishment - that would be a civil rights violation. They are there to enforce law, serve and protect students and staff from outside threats. Sometimes that does include juveniles -- some more than 6 feet, 200+ pounds fighting students and even police. You are also not mentioning the success that SROs have had in stopping these very same threats in schools -- not just “children.” When TASER controversy strikes, it’s easy to focus on an individual event instead of the totality. It’s akin to banning planes because they crash and not realizing that 10,000 planes land safely every hour. Is there a problem? Perhaps. So you address the problem in a thoughtful manner -- not a moratorium. Moratoriums based on individual incidents are bad precedents. You correct it with enhanced and well understood policies and procedures, strict oversight, and recurrent extensive training. 

— Online commenter stevetuttle in response to the April 17 horns down against the use of a Taser on another local high school student

 

Thanks for covering the town hall meeting of students in the College of Natural Sciences which introduced CNS101, a new small community cohort initiative for students in CNS. A couple of clarifications and elaborations seemed useful.  

While the program will be new, UT has had Freshman Interest Group (FIG) programs for many years, and the College of Natural Sciences in particular has long worked to include many of our students in small learning communities such as TIP, FIGs, ESP, BSP, FRI, etc. We view CNS101 as our college’s effort to make a meaningful contribution to the provost office’s 360 Connections challenge to include every incoming freshman in a small academic community.  

CNS101 will borrow from some of the best practices found in our current programs and translate that best practice to all sections for all students. Our initiative was spurred by student comments that not all of our current communities offered the same opportunities for students. What we learned from students is that there are many great ideas already out there, but we needed to get that set of ideas in front of every community.

What is pleasing to me about CNS101 is that it is anchored in what students told us is most important. We heard that students want to be supported in a community of peers when they first arrive on campus, and they want academic support and advice on how to be successful. These are themes addressed in FIGs now. But what we also heard is that students wanted greater connection with academic and faculty advisers, and they wanted opportunity to talk about careers and majors. So we extended CNS101 to be a full year and built on the existing ideas of small communities to include these new considerations. Other universities have also found that community building, academic success, advising and careers/majors really helped their students.

Your article rightly points out that there is much to be done, and this program is new. Our hope is that with a solid foundation of student input, as well as continued advice and participation by the student body, CNS101 will provide a valuable service to new students in the College of Natural Sciences.

— Sacha Kopp, associate dean of the College of Natural Sciences, submitted via email in response to Francisco Dominguez’s column “CNS101 program will unite College of Natural Sciences”