Texas Wesleyan President Frederick Slabach conducted an open forum on Tuesday for students to voice their comments, concerns, and questions regarding campus carry.
The forum, which was held in the Baker Building during free period, included around 50 students attending and about 15 speaking and asking questions.
The forum addressed the possibility of guns on the Wesleyan campus following the passage of a state law allowing guns on college campuses. Private universities such as Wesleyan can opt out of allowing guns on campuses; the university has until Aug. 1, 2016 to decide.
Slabach said the forum was very helpful and probably one of the most engaged discussions the university has had on the issue so far.
“We had a lot of discussion on both sides of the issue and it was very helpful to me to hear the points of views of the students and faculty here today,” he said. “It is a part of the overall consultation of the process and we’re taking the entire fall semester to do that.
Wesleyan’s consultation process regarding campus carry includes speaking with the Student Government Association, alumni, and faculty, Slabach said.
“We really want to give everyone an opportunity to speak their mind,” he said. “And in every consultation that we have had we have some that were for and some that were against campus carry.”
At the Tuesday forum, opinions were divided fairly evenly about having guns on campus.
Erica Mcgill, a junior biology major, said the forum was interesting and she enjoyed hearing the different views.
“I think everybody is kind of fighting for the same thing in a different way,” she said. “Everybody wants to be safe and go to school knowing they will be protected.”
Mcgill, who is against campus carry, believes people are not stable enough to carry guns especially on campus.
“I believe people are letting their personal views on guns get in the way of the best interest of everybody on campus,” she said. “I feel like they might allow campus carry because it seems as if most people are for campus carry.”
Some students mentioned the dangers of gun violence, school shootings, crime rates in the area, the slow response time of security officers, and their Constitutional right to bear arms.
Breanna Lockwood, a junior criminal justice major who is for campus carry, said these forums are extremely important to the Wesleyan community and a great way for students and faculty voice their opinions.
“Everyone brought up great points and I enjoyed listening to both sides of the argument,” she said. “But that does not make me change my standpoint on the issue. It confirms my idea that people need to be more educated about gun safety and haven’t really accepted the world we live in today and it makes me feel more confident in my belief.”
Courtney Cox, a junior athletic training major who is against campus carry, said Tuesday’s forum was disappointing because there are so many people misinformed about campus carry or carrying firearms in general.
“I think people need to be more educated,” she said. “A decision like this is a big one and I believe campus carry in public universities was passed for a reason and I do not think we should be any different.”
Many of the students for campus carry stressed how dangerous the neighborhood around Wesleyan is.
Chinmay Solanki, a sophomore liberal studies major, asked Slabach what he should do when he gets a gun pointed at him, something he claimed has happened to him and his friends several times on and around campus.
Slabach interrupted another student trying to argue with Solanki, ending Solanki’s comments by saying that the campus is one of the safest in the area, including the University of Texas at Arlington and Texas Christian University.
Slabach said that Wesleyan will be hiring three retired police officers regardless if the university chooses to allow guns on campus.