To pack or not to pack heat, that is the question
By Oscar Gonzalez/@originalgamer1
Students have the opportunity to give their opinion on a controversial issue circulating through Texas campuses: allowing licensed handgun owners to carry a concealed weapon on public colleges and universities.
Added today to Community, the university’s hub for student organizations, the SGA poll consists of one question: “Indicate your level of approval with proposed legislation that would allow the carrying of handguns on campuses associate[sic] with institutions of higher education.”
Students can select from a range of answers spanning the political spectrum, from “strongly approve” to “strongly disapprove.” Students can vote until 5:00 p.m. April 9.
As reported on March 20, the concealed carry poll was set for distribution on March 30. Melissa Mahan, vice president for student affairs, explained the delay was because she needed to confer with President Matson over whether the poll should extend to faculty and staff.
Texas A&M University System policy prevents the administration from using state resources to endorse, support or promote any political candidate or any partisan political activity. Although this is a student poll, the issue is also a high profile legislative agenda item. Mahan said she and Matson agreed extending the poll to the whole campus community “was not the best use of university resources.”
Andres Holliday, student government association president, expressed his dismay over the delay and then sudden posting of the poll question.
“To be frank with you, I’m a little upset that the poll went up without first asking me, ‘Hey, when should we put the poll up?'” Holliday said. “We planned to promote this for two to three days, now what are we going to do now? How are we going to get schedules together?”
In regards to using Community to poll the students, Holliday said Community would keep the integrity of the poll intact since only students can have access to the site, unlike other survey websites.
Once the poll closes, Holiday explained the student senate will present a bill in the senate that is in line with study body opinion whether for, or against, concealed carry on campus. Once the bill passes, Holliday will either approve or veto it. That bill is then presented to the university as the official stance of the students on the matter.
The Texas Legislature one step closer to approving SB11, the campus carry bill. On March 31, Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee voted in favor to send House Bill 937 to the full House. If passed, the bill would allow licensed handgun owners to carry a concealed weapon on college campuses, including dormitories and classrooms.