As midterms are approaching, students are in the thick of the semester. But this semester is not like previous ones.
Texas joined seven other states on Aug. 1 in allowing concealed handguns onto their university campuses. And despite the heated debate from faculty, staff and students on the campus carry policy, so far the University of North Texas seems pretty quiet.
A criminal justice graduate student received a license to carry in May and has been carrying a concealed handgun on campus since August.
“I guess the only difference now is that I now have peace of mind if something was to go awry,” said the student, who asked to remain anonymous.
The graduate student would only pull out a concealed gun as a last resort and would rely on verbal communication and stunning devices first.
“Even if there was a situation where I needed to draw my weapon, I don’t keep a bullet in the chamber,” the student said. “So as a last-defense mechanism, I would chamber my bullet so my aggressor understands the situation they’ve put themselves into.”
UNT Police Chief Ed Reynolds said the day-to-day operations of the university have not changed because of the law and so far there have not been any reported violations.
“We have not experienced any issues since the law became effective,” Reynolds said.
Texas Woman’s University police also haven’t reported any campus carry violations, according to Police Chief Elizabeth Pauley.
“It’s been almost a nonevent,” she said. “We’ve had to put up signage, complete paperwork and [implement] education procedures, but ... everybody seems to be cooperative.”
But this change has not been welcomed by all. Tracy Everbach, an associate professor in UNT’s Mayborn School of Journalism and a leading opponent of campus carry, thinks the law could keep students from sharing in classes because they’re intimidated. She has a section in her class syllabus stating students should report if they see a classmate violating the law by not concealing their weapon.
“It’s not conducive to a learning environment,” Everbach said.
English professor Deborah Armintor has voiced similar opinions in the past over campus carry. Like Everbach, she changed her syllabus to oppose the law inside the classroom, a move that garnered some controversy this summer.
Matthew Eshbaugh-Soha, chairman of the Political Science Department, doesn’t see the added value in having campus carry at UNT.
“A good rule of thumb is the status quo should change if there is a problem,” Eshbaugh-Soha said. “I didn’t see a problem.”
Not all faculty share the same beliefs, though. Other staff members have joined with students and begun bringing their handguns onto campus as well.
“I think it really hasn’t made any notable difference,” said a UNT Political Science Department staff member who wanted to remain anonymous. “There’s a few states where it’s been in place for a while. I know some people who teach at these institutions and nothing has really changed for them, they say.”
Though the professor was against campus carry at first because of the effects it could have in an educational environment, the professor hasn’t yet seen hesitation in classroom discussions.
“Campus carry is something I opposed in principle, but I can also see the reasons in favor,” the political science professor said. “So for those reasons, as long as it’s legal, I participate.”