Dozens of University of Texas professors banded together on Thursday to call for a gun-free campus. Faculty and staff are protesting the recently passed campus carry law. They want classes, offices and other areas of campus to be gun-free zones.
The campus carry law is set to go into effect in August of 2016. Faculty and some students say now is the time to make sure the change never happens.
One name after another rang out on UT’s West Mall. “Henry Lee from Virginia Tech and Catalina Garcia, Northern Illinois,” read one UT professor off a handmade sign.
Each is a grim reminder of the people who have been victims of gun violence on college campuses.
“I am mentioning the name of Edna Townsley who died, who was a victim of Charles Whitman in the UT Tower massacre in the 1960s,” said another faculty member.
While most signs remembered victims, one spoke directly to the fear of becoming one. “I wanted to admit that even though as a professor I am in a position of authority that I also feel scared,” said UT English Professor Ann Cvetkovich.
Cvetkovich has been teaching on campus for 29 years and says she needs to be free of fear to do her best in the classroom. “I really fear for our campus climate,” said Cvetkovich.
UT senior Ursula Walker is thankful she’s going to graduate before the campus carry law takes effect. “I don’t think you can fight fire with fire and I say this in honor of Brian Bluhm of Virginia Tech who was killed by on-campus gunfire,” said Walker.
The senior says campus is already a high stress zone. She thinks putting guns in the hands of students will only add to the anxiety.
“Thinking of walking around campus and also knowing that somebody has a gun on them. I don’t want to say the wrong thing or step the wrong way. I hardly would even want to be on campus,” said Walker.
Some students and faculty say it’s hard to think that when fall classes start next year UT will be smoke-free, but not gun-free. They don’t want cigarettes to be considered more deadly than firearms.