President and Chancellor Ken Starr announced Baylor’s official opposition to the Texas Senate Bill 11, or campus carry, at the Baylor’s Board of Regents February meeting Friday.
The campus will remain gun-free for students, faculty, staff and visitors. As a private college in Texas, Baylor is able to take action against the bill, unlike state colleges such as the University of Texas or Texas A&M University.
“I feel like it makes us a target because people know we cant defend ourselves. If someone went to UT and tried to do something there, they’d know students have guns, but here we don’t,” Abilene freshman Robert Girdner said. “The campus police are pretty good, they still have to get to wherever it’s happening.”
Faculty Senate and Staff Council as well as student government made individual decisions about campus carry and gave those deliberations to the board of regents for consideration. The Senate and council debated on the subject for a great length of time before any input was given.
The student government went through a series of public and private discussions over the past few weeks and received student input before any conclusions were made. Included in those were a public speaking event and an online voting poll that all students were invited to join via email.
“Regardless of where our faculty, staff and students stand on the issue, we do know that they care deeply about the safety of our campus,” Starr said in a news release. “We applaud and appreciate the deliberate process undertaken by our campus community and their invaluable contributions to the university’s response on campus carry.”
Last week, Student Senate’s original bill to oppose open carry was invalidated by the Baylor Student Court on the bill’s failure to follow constitutional procedure.
Students were only very recently made of aware of this decision, but were pleased to have an official statement.
“I applaud Ken Starr for coming out with an action; his comment on it,” said Houston freshman Kate Hambly. “If people started to do it and then he said no, it would be much harder to do an act, whereas now he just cut to the chase.”
Boston, Massachusetts freshman Drew Robinson also agrees with the decision. Robinson said he is used to much stronger gun control and feels safer without students having guns on campus.
“I honestly think we can look at the past and see that people have called bomb threats because they have a final they didn’t study for or …[other student stresses].” Robinson said. “There are veterans who are trained day in and day out to deal with combat scenarios and they can still make errors. I don’t think that a student who took a couple classes is on the same level as a Marine [in a difficult situation].”
In other business, the regents approved two new degree plans: a doctoral degree in computer science and a joint graduate degree in athletic training.
On the residential front, the regents also approved $13 million to go toward renovating Martin Residence Hall as well as $1 million for maintenance and capital projects on upper-division and transfer-student residential facilities such as University Parks Apartments, Brooks Flats and Arbors Apartments.