will be allowed in classrooms at the University of Texas at Austin next
school year, but not in the dorms save for some narrow exceptions, under
guidelines issued Wednesday.
University President Greg Fenves submitted the rules reluctantly to
comply with the state’s new campus carry law, which has generated
The law allows the concealed carrying of weapons by license holders in
public university buildings across the state.
[If you want to carry a gun on campus, these states say yes]
Universities were given the power to create limited rules that
designate some “gun-free zones” in areas where it would be too dangerous
to have weapons.
Those zones have to be limited in scope, however, and can’t have the
effect of making it practically impossible to carry a gun anywhere on
In separate letters to UT System Chancellor Bill McRaven and the
university community, Fenves said he opposes the idea of guns on campus.
But the law gives him no choice, he said. That has made the process of
writing the rules the most difficult thing he has done since becoming
president last year, he said.
“As a professor, I understand the deep concerns raised by so many,” he
wrote in his letter to faculty, students and staff. “However, as
president, I have an obligation to uphold the law.”
Fenves’s rules will ban guns in dorms except for three exceptions:
Concealed guns would be allowed in common areas. Family members visiting
dorms would be allowed to carry a gun. And staff members who work in the
dorms could carry a gun.
While no classroom ban will be imposed, faculty members who don’t
share an office with anyone else can ban guns in their specific areas,
He also issued strict rules for how those guns can be carried. In most
cases, students and other people carrying guns must keep the weapons “on
or about their person” at all times. If people aren’t carrying their
guns, they’ll have to keep them in their locked cars. Gun safes will
only be allowed in one place — university apartments, which are mostly
reserved for families and graduate students.
All guns that are being carried will have to be kept in a holster that
protects the trigger. The gun can’t have a bullet in its chamber. And it
can’t be visible; the state’s new open carry law doesn’t apply to
Several other areas of campus will also have gun bans, including
daycare centers, labs where dangerous materials are stored and
health-care and counseling facilities.
The law put university presidents in charge of making the rules, but
the schools’ boards of regents have the power to change them with a
A UT System spokeswoman said that its board will review — but not
necessarily take action on — all of its schools’ plans later this
spring. Fenves and other university presidents have consulted with
system officials throughout the rule-making process.
Campus carry has been one of the most controversial issues in years at
colleges across the state.
Private universities were given the choice about whether they wanted
to comply. So far, 24 private schools have opted out of the new law;
none have opted in.
Opposition has been especially strong at UT-Austin. The university’s
faculty council passed numerous resolutions against allowing guns in
The college’s only Nobel Prize-winning faculty member has promised to
flout the law and ban guns in his class no matter what Fenves’s rule
But the task force convened by Fenves decided that a classroom ban
went too far. Many students come on campus solely for the purpose of
attending class, so a classroom ban would prevent them from carrying
their guns at all.
The task force considered setting up storage areas for guns, but
decided that would pose too much of a security risk or chance for
The dorm ban is different. State leaders, including Attorney General
Ken Paxton, have argued that guns should be allowed in student housing,
too. But the task force reached a different conclusion, saying few of
the people old enough to have a concealed handgun license — you have to
be 21 to obtain one in Texas — actually live in dorms.
Fenves’s rules are likely to be challenged by both sides. McRaven
predicted earlier this year that his schools will be sued by people who
think the guidelines are too strict or too lenient.
The law goes into effect Aug. 1.
“Since this is a new law with an unknown effect on UT-Austin, we will
monitor implementation and its impact on students, faculty members and
staffers,” Fenves wrote to McRaven.
“I have significant concerns about how the law will affect our ability
to recruit and retain faculty members 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.”