Texas administrators have instructed faculty members to steer clear from teaching controversial course material for “safety concerns” due to a new law which allows people to carry concealed handguns on college campuses.
Faculty members at the University of Houston are strongly opposing this new campus carry law because it they believe it halts freedom of the academic learning experience and ceases free speech.
In response, the Faculty Senate at the University of Houston has offered suggestions on how to teach to students under this new rule.
The president of Houston’s Faculty Senate created a PowerPoint which detailed the implications of campus carry, which suggested that professors have no power of the dictation of the new law, saying that they have to post signs reminding students of it or include language in their syllabi that “Guns have no place in the academic life of the university.”
Another slide, however, offers some suggestions to faculty members, saying that they may want to:
- Be careful discussing sensitive topics.
- Drop certain topics from your curriculum.
- Not ‘go there’ if you sense anger.
- Limit student access off hours.
- Go to appointment-only office hours.
- Only meet ‘that student’ in controlled circumstances.”
That slide, of course, is generating a lot of conversation from both sides of the debate, and the University was quick to say that the recommendations are just recommendations.
The law is set to take effect during this upcoming summer at public universities and next summer at community colleges, but private colleges in Texas have the option to opt out of the law, which they have.
Shawn Lindsey, the Director of Media Relations for the University, shared the university’s statement which says that Houston “takes issues surrounding campus safety and guns on campus very seriously and will strive to create policies that comply with the new campus carry law, protect the rights of citizens and address the safety and security of the entire campus.”
This debate has now been taken up in two states as Georgia’s House of Representatives passed similar guidelines for its school system.
A group in Houston is currently figuring out how some of these new rules will play out on campus even though the law does not allow for guns to be banned outright. Some universities have decided that concealed firearms must be in allowed in the classroom.
This debate is continuing to grow in magnitude, as the Students for Concealed Carry have argued that professors should not be more afraid of legal, concealed weapons than illegally concealed ones, and that this new law actually makes campuses safer.
Do you agree?
(Photo Credit: Katie Haugland / Flickr)