February 13, 2013
Senator Brian Birdwell
1400 Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78701
Dear Senator Birdwell,
We are writing to voice our opposition to the proposed legislation SB 182 that would allow students and other individuals to carry concealed weapons on our college campuses. While those of us at Baylor University are relieved that this bill would not force private universities to comply, we object to the proposed change that it would no longer be a crime for someone to carry a weapon on our private campus.
Furthermore, as educators we are concerned about the effect this law would have on higher education at all of our public universities in Texas.
Not only are the intended outcomes of this legislation (i.e., a safer campus against acts of violence) highly questionable but the unintended outcomes of this legislation are predictably disruptive and potentially disastrous. Allowing students to carry deadly weapons into our classrooms will potentially change the way we lecture and facilitate discussions. It may very well impede the free flow of ideas and exchanges which are essential in the academic enterprise; it may introduce an element into this environment that causes anxiety, tension, concern, and fear.
Allowing students, parents, or others to carry deadly weapons into our administrative offices where decisions are made about the academic status of students (including probation, suspension, expulsion, grade appeals, and graduation), where decisions are made about disciplinary matters (including probation, suspension, and expulsion), where decisions are made about financial matters (including the awarding of scholarships, financial aid probation, and financial aid termination) would, as you can surely imagine, create potential risks to administrators and their staff; this would be somewhat like allowing an individual to carry a loaded gun into a court room.
When transcripts, personal records, and financial aid of students are affected by decisions that we make, you can imagine the high levels of emotion which can be engendered in these situations.
Furthermore, it is no secret that our 17 to 25-year-olds are in transition from youth to young adulthood; they are at various stages of intellectual, emotional, and moral maturity. Loaded handguns carried by youth can be dangerous anywhere but surely we do not want them in our classrooms, chapels, laboratories, residential halls, recreation centers, sporting events, intramural fields, health clinics, student government meetings, cafeterias, cashier’s office, financial aid office, registrar, record’s office, and many other administrative offices.
We ask you not to gamble with the lives of our students, staff, and faculty at Baylor University and other Texas colleges with this ill-conceived experiment.
Instead, we ask you to support universal background checks as a way to keep our campuses safer.