Baylor University has joined the long list of Texas private institutions to ban handguns on their campuses next fall, as reported in the Texas Tribune by Matthew Watkins. The Tribune reached out to all private colleges in the state and, as of Feb. 16, 24 said they have made up their minds. None of those contacted plan to allow guns.
As reported here often, public institutions don't have this choice. Universities must have a strategy by August, with community colleges allowed an extra year.
It so happens that a local option precisely mirrors the position of TCCTA: let each school decide. But this deserves some context.
Sponsors of the law, to allow licensed carriers of concealed firearms to bring their weapons into campus buildings, opted at the time to exempt private colleges, stating that they did not want to intrude upon property or religious rights. Most private colleges in Texas are religiously affiliated. Nevertheless, the verdict from private schools so far appears to be unanimous—from school officials in all parts of the state, representing a wide variety of cultural differences. (Baylor's values could certainly be labeled "conservative." The school's president, Ken Starr, prosecuted President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinski matter.)
When tension surfaces between competing rights, lawyers rejoice. Burnt offerings and eviscerated goats are presented to the gods of litigation, followed by dancing in the streets. However, the frenzy may be premature.
You may have noticed the UT-Austin professor, a Nobel laureate, who says he will state in his syllabus next fall that guns will not be allowed in his class. One claim his supporters make involves freedom of speech (listed alongside religion in the First Amendment). But courts have tended to rule that course syllabi are institutional documents, not the expression of a professor's opinion. Plus, now that we have common syllabi with mandated learning outcomes and objectives, it's probably harder to argue for individual freedom of speech. (Here is some recent news regarding UT, from Mike Ward and Matthew Adams, reported in the Houston Chronicle.)
The idea of guns in classrooms is hard for many instructors to take. How can teachers insist that students can't bring food into class, but are not allowed to prohibit guns? "Focus, people! Feel free to bring in your concealed weapons, but if I smell a burrito—even a veggie burrito—there will be trouble!"
The short answer is that guns invoke legal and constitutional protection. Burritos, not so much, absent political activity from the National Burrito Association.
But it's weird, no?