Editorial- Campus carry needs to be discussed

Starting Aug. 1, concealed handguns will be legally allowed by permit holders on campus, affecting all TCC students.

Paula Lara/The Collegian

Whether students are on the computer in the library or standing in line at Subway, concealed handguns are going to be a part of the environment, and students need to be prepared.

Even though guns will have to remain concealed anywhere on campus, their presence will still be loud.

This law carries a major weight for TCC, and with it taking effect in less than five months, students need to know what to expect for both those who will and will not be carrying.

Before campus carry goes into effect, community colleges are given this time not only to establish rules and regulations for the new law but also to advise students, faculty, staff and the public.

TCC has a campus carry committee that first met on Oct. 22, 2015. The committee has representatives from the TCC police department as well as other departments including human resources, facilities and information technology. The committee is developing the rules and regulations, which will be approved by Chancellor Eugene Giovannini and the board of trustees.

Question-and-answer sessions were held last year by TCC to give faculty and staff updates on the legislation, but students were not included.

Police training coordinator Dwane Kelley has been contacted by TR and TRE to do presentations on campus carry this spring, which is encouraging. However, other campuses should start planning events that include students as well.

TCC’s website has a brief explanation of the law and a press release, but it is still too little information to give students an idea of what the future will look like with campus carry.

Despite the fact that TCC is doing something to prepare for campus carry to go into effect, it is not enough.

When students were asked their opinions about the law going into effect, many were unaware of its existence. It is critical that the entire public knows of this new legislation because it affects everyone on campus.

Students need to become familiar with the law and the steps TCC will take so they can become more comfortable.

Other community colleges in close range to TCC are good examples of engaging the entire community with the new law.

The Dallas County Community College District is holding forums to not only advise the public but also receive feedback.

Campus carry went into effect last year for four-year universities, so looking at what they are doing can provide some guidance for TCC.

Texas A&M University emailed surveys asking people what their feelings were regarding the law and how they would want it implemented. An email was also sent out explaining the policies, and a presentation was held on campus carry.

Sam Houston State University held forums and Q&A sessions with the president and the university police department. Mass emails were also sent out. Greek life as well as other organizations had to have mandatory meetings about it. Resident advisors were given a script to inform incoming students on the policies.

Districtwide emails and phone calls, posters, frequent website and social media updates, campus-level and district-level forums and so much more can be done to get the word out that campus carry is coming to TCC, and it is will be here soon. TCC has really great outlets for information and should use them.

Students, faculty and staff need to be ready for these changes. For TCC to have a smooth transition, the channels of communication need to be opened more — much more.