The University of Houston’s (UH) faculty senate has issued a strong set of warnings to professors suggesting they avoid controversial topics in order to avoid provoking armed students.
Last year, Texas’s legislature passed S.B. 11, which requires public colleges to allow the concealed carry of handguns on campus by those who have permits to do so. Faculty at many schools have responded with outrage, claiming the law, which takes effect next August, exposes them to undue danger.
The PowerPoint slide created by UH’s faculty senate to advise faculty about the new law represents one of the most hyperbolic reactions by academia yet, suggesting they all substantially alter their behavior to avoid the risk of an armed student flying off the handle and gruesomely gunning them down.
“Drop certain topics from your curriculum,” it warns. “[Do] not ‘go there’ if you sense anger. Limit student access off hours … only meet ‘that student’ in controlled circumstances.”
A photo of the slide was posted online by a UH doctoral student, with a full copy later appearing at Inside Higher Ed:
The slide was written by Jonathan Snow, an earth science professor and the president of the faculty senate. Snow told Inside Higher Ed the slide was intended to encapsulate the danger to academic freedom posed by the new law.
“The intrusion of gun culture onto campus inevitably harms the academic enterprise in a myriad of ways,” he said. Maria Gonzalez, an English professor, expressed a similar fear that a “volatile” student in her class could snap and resort to violence during a lecture on Marxist or queer theory.
While the recommendations were created by the faculty senate, UH administrators were quick to point out the guidelines were not endorsed by the university itself.
Despite the faculty senate’s fears, it’s not clear legalizing campus carry will drastically increase the danger posed to professors. Campus carry is already legal in several states, including Colorado and Utah, but there has been no spate of faculty assassinations attributable to them.
The slideshow is just the latest example of faculty expressing their widespread opposition to the new law. Hundreds of faculty at the University of Texas have signed a petition against the new law, and one of them has even blamed the law for his decision to accept a new academic position with the University of Sydney.
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