AUSTIN (KXAN) — As if the first day of college isn’t stressful enough, when classes resumed at the University of Texas Wednesday, students and staff were met with an influx of protests and rallies regarding campus carry, which was implemented earlier this month.
The first protest began at 8 a.m. with students carrying around adult sex toys in protest of the new law allowing concealed carry on campus. The group, Cocks not Glocks, is asking anyone against the concealed carry law to wear them on their backpacks through Labor Day.
“It’s supposed to be a safe space but I don’t feel safe,” Mia Barrera, a sophomore UT student said of campus carry. “Why give them guns? Especially when a school is supposed to be a safe place. It doesn’t feel very safe knowing that there are kids who can bring guns on campus.”
In direct response to that protest, Open Carry Texas carried clocks in favor of Campus Carry. They say students shouldn’t waste their time protesting instead they should focus on getting to class on time.
At noon, Rally to Resist met on the West Mall. Several speakers were present to speak out against the law as part of the group Gun Free UT. State Representative Elliott Naishtat, Austin Council Member Kathie Tovo and two professors who are suing for their right to say no to guns in classrooms also spoke out.
“Guns don’t make him safe or they don’t make any of us safer in any circumstance and the reason we know that it’s because we’re researchers and we consult the data,” said Lisa Moore, one of the professor listed as a plaintiff in a suit against the UT, the University president and the Texas Attorney General.
She and Mia Carter, two of the plaintiffs, spoke during the rally.
“I think this is going to be a long battle and there is no time to get mopey and discouraged about it,” Carter says. The professors’ suit was blocked by a federal judge earlier this week.
In addition to getting prepared for campus carry over the summer, UT officials also made safety and security improvements to campus as a result of the murder ofHaruka Weiser in April. Right now the Department of Public Safety is reviewing ways to improve safety through lighting, security cameras, and access into buildings. Over the last few months, additional electronic systems to access buildings were installed. So far 70 out of 164 buildings have been upgraded.
This year school officials are also encouraging students to always walk with a friend at night, call UTPD to have their van shuttle them to different areas of campus, or call SureWalk.
“That was expanded over the summer time to include a golf cart as well as working 7 days a week from dusk until 2:30 in the morning to walk people around campus,” said Bob Harkins, Associate VP of Safety and Security at UT.
- People who have a license to carry will be allowed to carry on campus and into campus buildings (the handgun still needs to be concealed)
- It will still be illegal to display a firearm in campus buildings as well as campus streets, sidewalks, etc.
- Minimum age for obtaining a license to carry is 21
- “Campus” means all land and buildings owned or leased by a public or private institution of higher education.
- Schools may establish their own rules and regulations regarding “safe zones” and how students store their handguns in dormitories
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