Thursday, March 3, 2016

You better change my grade

Ooh, this one is scary. Way too close to home. A new Texas law will allow licensed gun owners to carry concealed handguns on public university campuses. It goes into effect August 1. Private schools may ban guns from their campuses, but not public. The Texas attorney general has already issued an opinion that no limits may be placed on students carrying guns into classrooms and dormitories.

Jonathan Snow, president of the faculty senate at University of Houston, told the regents, "Academics know the intrusion of gun culture into campus inevitably harms academic culture." Faculty were told to "avoid sensitive topics" and "provocative statements."

Provocative? Such as teaching evolution? Discussing climate change and what the research says about human causes? Criticizing a student's work after they've spent the semester on a project? Giving a student a grade that is lower then they think they deserve?

Perhaps discussing gay composers? In my first year of teaching a student used the phrase, "that's so gay." The next class period I started with music by Samuel Barber, then mentioned Aaron Copland and Peter Tchaikovsky. These are my favorite composers, I said. They and many others were gay. Saying something is "so gay" and I'll assume you are giving a complement. I was in a Catholic college (though progressive) at the time. What if an ardently Catholic student didn't like even the mention of gay people? And had a gun?

If that happened I would likely promptly resign. Which is what Frederick Steiner, dean of the University of Texas architecture program, has done. He will soon have a position at the University of Pennsylvania. An economics professor left UT Austin for Australia.

The presentation to the University of Houston faculty included such suggestions as: Drop certain topics from the curriculum. Switch to appointment only office hours. Meet those students in controlled situations.

Last Sunday the Detroit Free Press did a feature on Jordan Klepper of The Daily Show. The article described one of the features Klepper did for the show. It was "Good Guy with a Gun" and aired last December. Does having more civilians carrying guns mean more protection against bad guys? Klepper had gun training then took part in a simulated active shooter situation. He said,
I was shot over 20 times by two different bad guys with guns. And then the police mistook me for a bad guy and shot me a bunch too. Also I may have shot an unarmed teen twice in the chest. Being a good guy with a gun was starting to feel way more complicated than movies and video games and politicians make it seem.

Does anyone think that a student has the maturity, sense, and firearms with situation training to be the good guys in an active shooting situation? Or is something else going on?

Like intimidation.

Terrence Heath, writing for Campaign for America's Future, wrote:
Injecting guns into our political discourse not only pits the First Amendment against the Second Amendment, but also transforms the nature of protest. The courage of one’s convictions is no longer enough. “The physical bravery to face down men with guns,” while armed with nothing more that your ideas, is now also necessary. This is how the right shoots down political discourse.

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