The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Campus carry nears

Campus+carry+nears

By Hannah Lathen/ managing editor

TCC and other community colleges across Texas are scrambling to set up rules and regulations before campus carry goes into effect Aug. 1.  

TCC’s Campus Carry Committee began meeting in 2015. Assistant Police Chief Leigh Dietrich said former interim chancellor Angela Robinson instructed the committee to set up safety procedures, rules and regulations for when the law goes into effect for TCC.

“The Campus Carry Committee proceeded to review university system recommendations as well as proposed university policies throughout the State of Texas,” she said. “The committee also reviewed Texas Attorney General opinions as they related to campus carry and new legislations. The Campus Carry Committee then worked to establish proposed gun-free zones, proposed regulations and various ways to educate the community regarding campus carry at TCC.”

Dietrich said Q&A sessions were held last year to update the community on legislation as well as educational sessions through the Police Department’s training coordinator Dwayne Kelley.

“The Campus Carry Committee, working under the guidance of the district’s administration, will continue to plan, prepare for and educate the campus community in preparation for this new legislation,” she said.

Dietrich said the proposed regulations must be approved by Chancellor Eugene Giovannini after being reviewed and approved by the board of trustees.

Many TCC students who were interviewed were unaware of the law at all, much less what TCC was doing about it.

NE student Darrian Foster said TCC should make posters or broadcast it around campuses.

“If only a majority of students know and not all students know, that’s when it could lead to problems,” he said.

NE student Jose Dyer said TCC needs to be more informative so students know what’s going on.

“I haven’t heard much about it,” he said. “It has been mentioned in my government classes, but as far as what other people think, I haven’t heard anything about that.”

Houston Community College’s Campus Carry Committee held meetings last semester, two of which were open to the public. HCC’s website includes general information about the law, a series of FAQs and an open carry fact sheet. Its campus carry page features safety videos on what to do if there is an active shooter.

The Dallas County Community College District has a district-level committee as well as campus-level committees for campus carry, Brookhaven College Police Capt. Mark Lopez said.

“They are doing the open forums,” Lopez said. “They are doing it for the staff, students and also doing it for the public to garner their opinions. So we are in that process at this time.”

The open forums run through Feb. 16 across each of their campuses and are open to everyone. The DCCCD website offers a page explaining what campus carry is, what is and is not allowed, along with answers to over 25 FAQs.

Before DCCCD issues its official rules and regulations, it is sending out a survey this month to all students, faculty and staff as well as hearing what its community has to say during the forums.

Collin College Police Chief Bill Taylor said it also reached out to the community before establishing set rules.

“We have spent the last year and a half or so having conversations with students, faculty and staff and particularly the town halls that we did to kind of develop information and thoughts about what we need to do to craft the rules, if you will, the regulations to implement the law as it goes into effect here at Collin,” Taylor said.

Collin College is currently in the process of establishing those rules, Taylor said.

“Once the regulations are determined and they are issued, then we will go into an education period and explain what they are, how they work and that kind of thing,” he said.

“There will be educational sessions in the spring after the regulations are announced and what they are going to be, then we will do the educational piece so people are prepared by the first of August to understand what they are.”

Taylor said he thinks the Texas Legislature was brilliant in how it went about passing campus carry.

“Texas forced the colleges and universities to take some time and think about how it affected their particular institutions and then set up a system, if you will, or an expectation that each of them would craft their rules and regulations to fit their institution,” he said. “I think it has worked quite well that way.”

North Central Texas College Chief of Police James Fitch said his college is in the early stages of establishing rules.

“We are forming our committee to address the campus carry coming into effect in August,” he said. “We have five campuses in four different counties and each campus is unique, so we are making sure our committee stretches across the campuses as well.”

Campus carry went into effect for four-year universities in Texas in August. Fitch said NCTC is looking at four-year universities to get ideas on how to go about declaring rules and regulations.

“We will be looking at and working with very closely our two Denton County campuses, both the University of North Texas and Texas Woman’s University as well as we are in a partnership with Midwestern State,” he said. “We will be looking at their policies and probably mirroring a lot of them so that students can make an easy transition with that law.”

Fitch says setting up the guidelines is still a work in progress.

“The big unknown is the Texas Legislature is meeting as we speak, and they could change the law before it even takes effect for us,” he said. “We are proceeding just as if the law is going to take effect and there’s not going to be any changes,” he said.

Texas State Technical College in Waco had campus carry go into effect Aug. 1, 2016. Police Chief Brian Davis says his advice to other colleges preparing for the law to go into effect is to have communication with the students, faculty and staff through campuswide and town hall meetings.

“With everybody informed, it is a much smoother transition,” he said. “Since Aug. 1, we have not had a single reported incident as it relates to campus carry, so it has gone smoothly here without any problems.”

Until the campus carry law goes into effect Aug. 1 for two-year colleges, it is illegal to bring a firearm onto a TCC campus.

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