Faculty senate speaks out about teaching with firearms in the classroom

By Ashley Ford—


Updated on March 17 @ 10:00 a.m.

Tarleton State University’s faculty senate encourages professors to confront ‘sensitive topics boldly and openly” even when Campus Carry is in effect. Michael Landis, assistant professor of history, wanted to address how some public colleges want to desensitize their curriculum when possibly having licensed concealed handgun holders in the classroom.

Tarleton’s faculty senate adopted this resolution: “The Faculty Senate at Tarleton State University affirms its commitment to the free expression of ideas in the classroom, despite the presence of firearms. We encourage our faculty to confront ‘sensitive topics’ boldly and openly.”

Only one person out of the 15 at the meeting was against passing this motion.

“It’s a little reactive to whatever is happening in Houston,” said Nina Roger, accounting, finance and economics representative. “My concern is about putting ‘firearms’ in (the resolution), because it’s not just about guns.”

The majority of the faculty senate agreed that Campus Carry would not affect their teaching style in the classrooms and that, even without the new law coming into effect, professors should be exercising this teaching style now.

“We have always been doing this, and we are not going to change. We are going to continue to tackle the tough topics,” said Donald McGahan, an assistant professor of wildlife, sustainability and ecosystem science. “We want to keep true that we are going to teach true to our disciplines, whether it’s guns or tenure.”

This is a slide from a powerpoint from a faculty senate meeting at University of Houston.Photo from Michael Landis

This is a slide from a powerpoint from a faculty senate meeting at University of Houston.
Photo from Michael Landis

In late February, University of Houston’s faculty senate discussed that, to eliminate violence in the classroom, professors should: “be careful discussing sensitive topics, drop certain topics from their curriculum, not ‘go there’ if you sense anger, limit student access off hours, go to appointment-only office hours and only meet ‘that student’ in controlled circumstances.

After this slide was shown to Tarleton’s faculty senate, Amber Harris Bozer, the representative for psychological science, responded, “I think the idea to associate the burden from faculty with preventing these events that in reality, it can’t be prevented by doing these things that are on this gentleman’s list.”

Dr. Karen Murray, associate professor; provost and vice president of academic affairs, who presides over the faculty Senate said“I think that this position statement reflects very well on Tarleton, and reflects the commitment of our faculty to provide the best possible learning experience for our students.”

According to the System Campus Carry Implementation Schedule, Tarleton submitted its regulations for the Campus Carry law before Feb. 1 to the A&M System Policy Office. On Feb. 1, the A&M Policy System submitted these rules to the Office of General Counsel to be reviewed and then to the Chancellor for approval.

“March 1, 2016 – March 31, 2016, the System Offices will prepare an agenda item for the review or amendment of the member concealed carry rules. The item will be reviewed by the Office of General Counsel, approved by the Chancellor and signed by each member CEO.”

On April 1, the A&M System will submit the final agenda, and later that month, the Board of Regents will review these rules as revised.

May through July, Tarleton will make the necessary preparations in order for the concealed carry rules to become effective by Aug. 1.

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