AUSTIN (KXAN) — The University of Texas at Austin President Greg Fenves has released his decision regarding the controversial campus carry law, which would allow handguns in classrooms. After reviewing the task force recommendations, Fenves says he will allow handguns in classrooms.
In a letter to UT students, faculty and staff, Fenves said while he personally does not believe handguns belong on campus, he is obligated to enforce the law. Additionally he has established another group, Campus Carry Implementation Task Force, to develop rules for handguns on campus.
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“I do not believe handguns belong on a university campus, so this decision has been the greatest challenge of my presidency to date,” Fenves said in a press release to the campus. “I empathize with the many faculty, staff, students and parents of students who signed petitions, sent emails and letters, and organized to ban guns from campus and especially classrooms. As a professor, I understand the deep concerns raised by so many. However, as president, I have an obligation to uphold the law.”
Fenves will adopt the 25 recommendations given to him by the Campus Carry Working Group he originally established to create potential campus policies. After the new implementation task force forms policy guidelines, the University of Texas System Board of Regents will have 90 days to amend the rules with a vote of two-thirds majority.
A UT panel released their recommendations for policies to be put in place for handguns on campus. Specifically they say guns should be banned from dorms, offices, labs and child care facilities. However, the panel also said UT’s more than 50,000 students spend most of their time on campus in the classroom, therefore they believe by keeping handguns out of the classroom they are violating the campus carry law.
Only licensed handguns owners will be able to bring their guns to campus as long as it is locked on their person. Additionally handgun holders can not carry guns with a chambered ammunition round in it.
Those who live in University apartments must store their handguns in a secured safe or locked vehicle. Residents of dormitories however, are not allowed to have handguns in their rooms, but can carry them in common areas, such as lounges, dining and study areas.
The decision to allow handguns in staff offices has been left up to the individual faculty-member. Many University professor have voiced their opinions opposing the new law, which would go into effect Aug. 1. The Senate Bill 11 was passed last year causing state-wide outrage over the safety of students and faculty on campus.
“With the introduction of handguns into these environments, many faculty members, students and staffers have expressed concerns that permitting the carrying of handguns in offices will inhibit open dialogue especially when discussing difficult and sensitive issues with peers, students and others,” the policy states.
Private universities have the option of opting out of the new law. St. Edward’s University has already released their decision to ban handguns on their campus.