The university will host a campus carry forum sponsored by the Student Government Association on November 11. The forum is in response to the passage of Senate Bill 11, commonly known as “campus carry,” which allows for concealed firearms on the campuses of public higher institutions with designated “gun-free zones.” SB11 provides an exemption for private universities to opt out of the bill provided that the university consults its students, faculty and staff.
Trinity currently prohibits firearms on campus and intends to opt out of the SB11 requirement through the campus forum, according to Sean McCutchen, student government association president.
“We’re holding this forum so that both sides can be heard and so that all sides can be represented and have their voices heard. So the administration can make their point clear about why they do not want campus carry and why campus carry won’t be at Trinity,” McCutchen said.
The Texas Tribune reports that Trinity is one of three other private institutions including Austin College in Sherman and Paul Quinn College in Dallas to likely ban guns on campus.
The forum will open with introductory words from Danny Anderson, university president, followed by an assessment of the difference between “open carry” and “campus carry” by Paul Chapa, chief of police.
“I’ll be introducing the difference between open carry and campus carry. Open carry is strictly off campus with guns not allowed on campus. Campus carry is identifying state institutions allowing weapons on campus and private institutions the option to opt out,” Chapa said.
The forum will also feature the differing viewpoints on campus carry from both students and faculty. From the student perspective, McCutchen will explain to the audience the concerns of campus carry and first year Brenham Pozzi will discuss the advantages of campus carry.
John Hermann, associate professor of political science, and David Crockett, professor and chair of political science, will provide the faculty perspective on both sides of the topic.
“Dr. Hermann is going to play the part advocating for campus carry and Dr. Crockett will play the part against campus carry. They’ll provide an academic side of things, not just anecdotal evidence,” McCutchen said.
Students, faculty and staff will be able to voice their opinions during a question and answer period at the end of the forum. Following the forum, a vote will also be taken from the SGA senators, Trinity Staff Engagement Committee and the Faculty Senate, according to Sharon Jones Schweitzer, assistant vice president for external relations.
“This is going to precede what might be a series of votes by representative bodies at the university so that we can document that we’ve consulted all levels of the university’s constituents from student to faculty and to staff,” Schweitzer said.
The forum and the votes from representative bodies will document the steps the university has taken to fulfill the opting out requirement of SB11.
“This is what we hope will be a continuation of a longstanding policy that we have of forbidding guns on campus,” Schweitzer said.
SGA plans to pass a resolution within the next two weeks against campus carry.
Miraziz Khidoyatov, senior and political science major, is one student that intends to attend the forum. Khidoyatov argues that Trinity’s policy of forbidding guns on campus is positive.
“The open carry policy that Texas has taken is just scary where people can carry weapons wherever they want to, they can use them whenever they feel like it,” Khidoyatov said. “I don’t think it is normal. There is extensive research available that other international organizations has done that shows the more availability of weapons you have, the more violence you have.”
Opting out of SB11 is indicative of what the Trinity community wants, according to McCutchen.
“I think this is legitimately reflective of what the campus wants from staff, faculty and students. That’s why we’re doing this so that Dr. Anderson can go to the Legislature and say this is what our students, administration and staff said,” McCutchen said.
The forum will be held on Nov. 11 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in Chapman Center Auditorium.