University of Houston Professors Prepare for Guns on Campus

Although the school hasn’t decided on a campus carry policy yet, faculty are getting educated about the new state laws.  

By Rhonda FanningFebruary 25, 2016 11:05 am, ,

Public universities across Texas are trying to come up with their own plan for how best to implement the state’s new campus carry law; it’s not open carry, but concealed. You won’t know if someone is carrying their gun on campus.

The University of Texas at Austin plans to permit students to carry in classrooms, but the University of Houston hasn’t yet decided. The school’s faculty senate has decided not wait and made a presentation to prepare for the eventuality.

Faculty senate president Jonathan Snow, a professor in the earth and atmospheric sciences department, recently spoke at a faculty presentation advising professors and lecturers what to watch out for.

One slide in particular has raised a few eyebrows: it warns academics may want to be careful discussing sensitive topics, drop certain topics from their curriculum, not “go there” if they sense anger from a student, limiting office hours, and more.

Snow says he wasn’t telling faculty what to put in their syllabus, he doesn’t have that authority.

“I was not telling anybody that they need to be afraid at this point,” he says. “What’s important though is for faculty to have that discussion, to talk about what things, precisely, they might feel comfortable saying in front of a classroom and what things they might not.”

For example, Snow says to think about topics that people say you should never bring up at a dinner party: politics, religion and the like. Those are things that Snow says faculty might want to think twice about engaging in – especially in a situation where there are possibly more guns on campus than there were before.

“We are educators. We engage directly with students. We engage sometimes quite vehemently with students,” Snow says. “So to say that it’s the same as just talking with your uncle is not really right.”

Snow says so far, it’s hard to tell whether other faculty members are taking his advice in stride.

“The whole thing is kind of new territory for us,” he says. “Faculty are just checking in on the subject and just finding out about it. Most of my presentation was just about the basics of campus carry: who can have a license and pointing out the very small likelihood that there’s actually gonna be somebody carrying. It’s those little interactions. Somebody says something funny and all of a sudden you’re worried what could happen here. And faculty need to think about that situation before it happens.”