As universities grapple with the new campus carry law, two schools are experiencing widely reported tangential issues.
At the University of Houston, the faculty senate held a meeting recently, featuring a Powerpoint presentation aimed at assisting faculty adapt to the forthcoming presence of legal concealed weapons in their classes and offices. One slide, as published in a Slate piece by Elliot Hannon, advises teachers to avoid sensitive topics, meet "that student" only in controlled circumstances, and "don't go there" if you detect anger in a discussion.
In cases involving freedom of expression, the U.S. Supreme Court used to refer to a proscribed "chilling effect," when a government policy tended to discourage free speech without actually banning it outright. It's possible that the gun law will chill certain activities or the discussion of controversial topics. If so, that would be very unfortunate. Some would argue that pointed discussions are important to the mission of higher education.
Meanwhile, at UT-Austin, the luminary dean of architecture announced that he is leaving to accept a position at the University of Pennsylvania, saying the state's new campus carry law played a major role in pushing him out. "I would have never applied for another job if not for campus carry," he said in an interview. "I felt that I was going to be responsible for managing a law I didn't believe in."
The UT case is reported in the Texas Tribune by Matthew Watkins. The piece includes a statement from the Students for Concealed Carry, saying in part, "Just as witches were not to blame for the Salem witch trials, and just as vaccines are not to blame for the negative results of the anti-vaccine movement, campus carry is not to blame for the current atmosphere of fear on Texas college campuses."
Even if we acknowledge freely that licensed carriers constitute one of the most law-abiding statistical cohorts in Texas society, the presence of legal guns on campus may convince more prestigious scholars and researchers to look to other states for opportunities. If so, that, too, would be unfortunate.