AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 26) - “Under the law, I cannot adopt a policy that has the general effect of excluding licensed concealed handguns from campus. I agree with the working group that a classroom exclusion would have this effect,” says University of Texas at Austin president Gregory L. Fenves. He has appointed a campus-wide task force to oversee the implementation of the Campus Carry law, according to a statement released by the university.
“I do not believe handguns belong on a university campus, so this decision has been the greatest challenge of my presidency to date,” said Fenves in a message directed toward 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 adopted 25 policy recommendations that were developed by the 19-member Campus Carry Working Group that he appointed in 2015. The policies establish rules on how handguns must be carried.
Gun exclusion zones will include certain laboratories, areas where pre-K-to-12 programs take place and (with some exceptions) university residences. Employees with private offices will be able to prohibit handguns inside those spaces. Classrooms will not be included in gun exclusion zones.
Gerald R. Harkins, associate vice president for campus safety and security. will serve as the chair of the Campus Carry Implementation Task Force, which will include experts in university operations, safety and security.,The group will also include faculty members, other staff members and student representatives. The group will develop guidelines, rules and practices to comply with the campus policies. The panel will work closely with the offices of provost, student affairs, the division of human resources, UT Police Department and other campus leadership.
The University of Texas System Board of Regents can amend the campus rules with a two-thirds vote within 90 days. Senate Bill 11 takes effect Aug. 1. Under state law, the open carry of handguns will continue to be prohibited on campus and in university buildings.
“Since this is a new law with an unknown effect on UT Austin, we will monitor implementation and its impact on students, faculty, and staff,” Fenves wrote in a letter to McRaven. “I have significant concerns about how the law will affect our ability to recruit and retain faculty and students. If problems develop, we will work to understand the causes and make adjustments to the policies, rules, and practices, consistent with the law.”