Senior Associate Editor Noah M. Horwitz discusses recent university, city and state political news in his eponymous radio program.
During the last week of campaigning, Student Government executive alliance candidates Braydon Jones and Kimia Dargahi expressed contradictory opinions about “Campus Carry” legislation in interviews with the College Republicans and the University Democrats.
Campus Carry, a bill under consideration in the House and Senate, would allow concealed handguns into campus buildings if the holder has a concealed handgun license.
In Jones and Dargahi’s interview, College Republicans president Amy Nabozny said the two candidates said, if Campus Carry was to become law, they would prefer schools get a choice as to whether Campus Carry is enacted. In a questionnaire for University Democrats, the alliance said, “We stand wholeheartedly in opposition to concealed carry on campus.”
Following the interview, Jones emailed College Republicans and said he supports Campus Carry.
“To be short, I do oppose Campus Carry in the definition of allowing any student to carry a weapon on campus; however, (as mentioned last night) I do think this is an area where it’s ‘grey’ and not black and white,” the email said. “I do support students with [CHLs’] ability to carry, as they have received training and adequate testing to carry firearms. That being said, I also believe in the importance of UTPD — and entrusting these men and women who serve to protect students to do their job.”
Nabozny said the group knew it could not endorse Jones this year after he fast-tracked a bill in opposition to Campus Carry through SG.
“After speaking to our members and then reading their UDems survey, it was clear they were pandering to both groups,” Nabozny said.
Jones and Dargahi are currently considered front-runners in the Executive Alliance race. In a Daily Texan opinion poll, the candidates amass 56 percent of the total online votes, with 2,987 votes at the time of publication.
At the SG candidate debate Monday, Jones said he opposes Campus Carry since the University is also opposed to the bill.
“Right now, the University of Texas administration, as well as the University of Texas System, [does] not support Campus Carry,” Jones said. “Until there is a large amount of students that think otherwise, I would be more than happy to sit down with students that think that, but I think it’s in the best interest of the University to support the administration.”
The other two alliances, Xavier Rotnofsky and Rohit Mandalapu, and David Maly and Steven Svatek, said they were completely opposed to Campus Carry.
“We feel like more guns on campus makes campus less safe, therefore we would want to advocate against it as student body president and VP,” Maly said.
Rotnofsky and Mandalapu, candidates who have been running a mostly satirical campaign, said at the debate they wanted to reverse their position on Campus Carry.
“Can we also backtrack our answer?” Rotnofsky said. “We’re for guns.”
Jones and Dargahi were the only executive alliance candidates that interviewed for an endorsement. Maly was present at the meeting and left before he could interview. College Republicans did not endorse a candidate this year.
On Monday, the Faculty Council (unanimously, I might add) reaffirmed its ban of firearms on campus following UT System Chancellor William McRaven's statement against the open carry bill currently making its way through the Legislature. Student Government came out with its decision to oppose the bill as well on Tuesday night. Senate Bill 17, the campus carry bill, and Senate Bill 17, the open carry bill, passed out of committee 7-2 last week despite objections from faculty and students. The fact that UT faculty and students' continuing opposition to Campus Carry is not being reflected in the decisions of our public officials is worrisome.
Beyond the threatening and unsafe atmosphere SB 11 would bring to campus, the bills would symbolize law being made without support from or consideration of the opinions of those being directly affected. It is in situations like these that the voices of Student Government and the Faculty Council should not be ignored. They are the representatives of our campus community and should have an integral say in the matter.
Colin Goddard, a survivor of the Virginia Tech massacre who was shot four times, spoke at a Feb. 12 hearing concerning the bills before the committee voted, as did several UT students. Goddard said, “We survivors do not think that it is a good idea to have guns on campus. There is no evidence that a bill like SB 11 would do anything to stop a mass shooting, but SB 11 would make the average day on campus more dangerous in an environment where students are dealing with failing grades, alcohol abuse [and] relationship problems.” He's totally right. SB 11 would have no positive effects on campus life.
Unsurprisingly, Texas A&M's chancellor recently came out in support of Campus Carry and some of his students have followed suit. Fine. Let them do what they want on their campus. If they support it, let them decide that for themselves. But UT does not want campus carry, and that should matter. Let us keep our campus gun-free and listen to and respect the voices of our students and faculty.
Bounds is an associate editor.