UT Dallas faculty, students fighting Texas Senate concealed carry bill

Students at the University of Texas at Dallas aren’t enamored with campus carry if their school legislature is anything to go by.

On March 20, 2013, the Faculty Senate at the University of Texas at Dallas signed a resolution opposing concealed carry on campus. Two years later, the Student Government passed a similar piece of legislation with a nearly unanimous vote.

In order to understand campus community thoughts about campus carry, the SG published a survey exclusively for students. UTD’s Office of Academic Governance claimed that the “SG believes the campus will be against guns on campus; however they want to get a cemented opinion from the survey.”

Tim Sullivan, head of the SG Legislative Affairs Committee, told Campus Reform that the survey received more than 700 responses, a record number.

“It was definitely more than we were expecting,” he said.

Brooke Kundsten, a Political Science junior and president of UTD’s Student Government, explained to Campus Reform that the survey was a link that was pushed through multiple forms of social media, in the student union, and the school’s student paper wrote an article about it.

In an interview with Campus Reform, Nancy Fairbank, SG Vice President said that in addition to the survey sent to UTD students, there was an open forum debate about the campus carry resolution. More than 25 people attended that event.

“As senators we have to support it [the resolution] since we wrote it and we approved it,” Kundsten said. Based on the survey and debate, the “majority [of students] wanted an opt-in, opt-out program.”

She also clarified that the SG resolution was not tied to the faculty resolution passed just days before.

The SG resolution, which passed on March 24, implied that Concealed Handgun License (CHL) holders did not have sufficient training, specifically for active shooter situations, Fairbank explained. Despite some dissent on UTD’s campus, Fairbank said she does not believe the resolution against campus carry will be changed in the future.

“I, on the personal level, am against campus carry,” Fairbank stated. “I also support how SG voted. As the student government vice president, I would have supported the resolution for or against [it] based on student opinion.”

According to a letter obtained by Campus Reform that was sent to Academic Senate members this month, “[t]he University of Texas at Dallas Faculty Senate believes that the carrying of firearms on campus by anyone other than law enforcement officers is detrimental to the safety and security of all on campus.” The Senate originally passed the resolution with one opposition and one abstention.

The legislation was written in response to student comments about the Texas Senate bill addressing concealed carry on college campuses.

The UT system Student Advisory Board (which both Kundsten and Fairbank serve on) recently voted unanimously against a Texas Senate bill that does not include an opt-in, opt-out clause. There was one school in favor of the Texas bill as it is written (without that clause), three that abstained from the vote, and the rest against campus carry.

Kundsten and Fairbank will represent UTD on April 17th in a sexual assault and campus carry lobbying event at the Texas state capitol.

Last week, some students on UTD’s campus advocated for gun rights outside of the student union. They asked interested students to sign a petition supporting campus carry that will be presented to the Texas legislature later in April.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BethanySalgado