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Texas Begins Allowing Guns on

Campuses on Monday. Heres What
Public Colleges Are Saying.
By Arielle Martinez

AUGUST 01, 2016

Texas law allowing people with concealed-carry licenses to bring their

weapons on college campuses is slated to go into effect for public four-year
institutions on Monday.

The states colleges and universities have been communicating their policies on the
new law to students, faculty, and staff members for several months. But those
communication strategies take on added urgency now that "campus carry" is the law,
and students are preparing to arrive for the new academic year.
Margarita Venegas, news manager at the University of North Texas, said the institution
had incorporated training sessions into orientation for new students, faculty, and staff
on what the law says and where the university has gun-free zones.
"That entails going over a little bit about what is SB 11, the actual law itself," Ms.
Venegas said of the training sessions. "What does it outline? What does it allow for?
What does it not allow? For example, there has been confusion about what is opencarry versus what is commonly known as campus-carry. So we want to educate




Ms. Venegas said that people might be concerned about the idea of guns on campuses,

so the administration has been directing students to bring their concerns to the ofce
of the dean of students. Concerned faculty and staff members should reach out to the
human-resources department, she said.

This is "so that not only does everyone feel well educated, but if they have concerns, we
can work with them to allay those before this policy starts or when they get to campus,"
Ms. Venegas said.
A majority of the universitys information on the new law on Monday is going out on
social media, "to be sure that this information is available to our new and incoming
students, who may not be on campus yet, who may not have their emails set up yet,"
Ms. Venegas said. The university will distribute short videos, featuring the campus
police chief explaining the law and policies, not only to students but to the community
at large in anticipation of visitors to the campus.
Eric Gerber, executive director of university communication at the University of
Houston, said all students, faculty, and staff members there will receive an email on
Monday from the campus police chief about the right to bring concealed weapons to
the campus, and there will be additional information on the university websites home
The most visible change at the university will be about 1,000 new signs around the
campus designating which zones are excluded from the new gun policy. (Increased
signage is one of the added expenses, both big and small, that the new law is expected
to bring to Texas colleges.)
But this isnt a one-day communication campaign, Mr. Gerber said. When the
academic year begins, the university will expand its efforts to inform people about
bringing guns to the campus. That includes adding information to CougarSAFE, the
universitys communications program for safety and security issues, including crime,
extreme weather, sexual misconduct, and trafc.

Part of Orientation




"We dont want to sensationalize the subject of campus carry, but it is important that

everyone on campus clearly understand its signicance," Mr. Gerber said in an email.
He added that the university includes material and presentations about guns on the
campus in new-student and new-employee orientations.

Guns on Campus

See more recent articles from The Chronicle about guns and higher education.
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Stop Worrying About Guns in the Classroom. They're Here.
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The Killings at Umpqua

Chris Cook, managing director of the Ofce of Communications and Marketing at

Texas Tech University, said that the institutions communications regarding the new
law will be integrated into existing programming for students, including orientation
and the student governments Safety Week. He also said the campus police department
had updated its training video for active-shooter situations to include information
about the campus-carry policy.



Gary Susswein, executive director of media relations and issues management at the

University of Texas at Austin, said most of the universitys correspondence over the


summer regarding the new policy has been with faculty members. The university has
been emailing them and giving them access to a frequently-asked-questions web page.
"Theyve been raising some very good questions about it that have really forced us to
go deeper on our messaging to make sure that were clear with answers to specic
questions" about the rules, Mr. Susswein said.
The university sent out an email last week to remind the university community of
provisions in the new law and in the universitys policies.





When classes begin, the university will make another push to get information out and
will probably use more social-media channels to reach students, he said.
But, Mr. Susswein said, it is ultimately the responsibility of licensed gun holders to
understand the rules.




"Under state law, those who have a license to carry are required to be familiar with the

law and the rules of the campuses where theyre going," he said. "And were trying to
put as much information as we can to both help them understand it and help others
understand it."

Copyright 2016 The Chronicle of Higher Education