End The Office Hour: Guns on Campus

Professor Dan Kline at University of Alaska – Arkansas speaks about violence, guns on campus, and the mistake the Alaska Legislature is making.

While some schools worry about issuing psychological trigger warnings about emotional material, UA professors would be worrying about actual triggers.

“The presence of a gun fundamentally would change the kind of things I would feel comfortable teaching and the way I would react and interact with students,” Kline said. “There’s an implied threat there. Not an implied threat. There is a threat there. Whether it is direct or indirect, the presence of guns is correlated with more violence.”

The University of Houston – Downtown (not the same university as the Houston I’ve been writing about) has released their draft guns policy. Yesterday, University of Houston did the same.

There are many things to say about these policies, but here’s one that hasn’t been heavily reported.

The draft policies both deny faculty the right to ban guns from their offices (on pain of a $10000 fine. CLARIFICATION: The fine would be for the university, not individual faculty).

Meanwhile, Sources on faculty at both institutions tell me that they are required to continue to hold office hours as part of their duties as a faculty member. Failure to hold office hours could result in negative results in tenure, promotion, and other review procedures. 
Therefore, faculty members now have to choose between being cornered in their offices by a student with a concealed handgun or suffering professional consequence for abandoning office hours.

The universities are being pushed by the legislature to permit guns on campus, but they get to define professional obligations in any way they want. That must include allowing faculty to end office hours.
And for the record, guns are allowed in admin offices too. It’s a disaster all around. Right now, though, I am focused on the needs of my colleagues. 

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