Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Campus carry ‘exclusion zones’ latest phase: office doors

Ethan Pham, The Paisano

Campus carry exclusion zones have been the center of UTSA’s campus carry policy since SB 11 went into effect on Aug. 1 2016. UTSA’s campus carry homepage details policy that lists only areas where guns are not allowed, i.e. “exclusion zones,” on campus.

One such exclusion zone is “[any] faculty or staff office not generally open to the public that are solely occupied by a single occupant,” states UTSA campus carry policy, “and [if] the occupant chooses to designate the office as an exclusion zone.”

“I don’t think it’s a big deal if [faculty] exclude their office or not,” stated junior transfer student Abigail Hernandez. “Because their office is a more personal area, so if they feel uncomfortable about it, they should have the right to say if they want to allow [concealed handguns] in their office or not.”

In Fall 2015, a task force appointed by President Ricardo Romo, comprised of three current students, one student who has since graduated and 13 UTSA faculty, staff and administrators, “develop[ed] recommendations to implement campus carry at UTSA,” according to the Campus Carry Homepage.

On April 13, 2016, President Romo issued UTSA’s original campus carry plan, which did not include faculty and staff offices. Then on Jul. 28, 2016 President Romo issued a revised plan which did include faculty and staff offices.

“I think the university should be able to decide whether or not to allow campus carry,” observed Karl Wacker, a UTSA student. “However… I do not think faculty should be able to designate their offices as exclusion zones.”

“I have mixed feelings about campus carry at UTSA. On the one hand, I believe that the second amendment should be upheld until it is officially repealed… However, because there are so many [exclusion] zones on campus… [the] law as it stands now will make it very difficult for students to actually carry firearms on campus if they so choose,” he continued.

According to political science professor, Dr. Walter Wilson, “SB 11 is bad for education and bad for UTSA. It is likely to have a chilling effect on free speech in class and, according to surveys I have conducted, makes many students and faculty feel unsafe on campus,” he stated

“Frankly”, said Dr. Wilson, “the state legislature has created a hostile work environment at Texas’s public universities.”

Additionally, UTSA policy requires that when an office is declared to be an exclusionary zone “the occupant will make reasonable arrangements to meet [people who may be license holders] in another location [besides the occupant’s office],” but this too is contested.

“I for one will hold office hours in my office,” declared Wilson, “and will not be making any special arrangements to meet at locations other than my office in order to accommodate [license] holders.”

More to Discover