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Education News

University of Houston: No Change To Campus Carry Policies That Start In August

The University of Houston system has reviewed its official policies for the law known as campus carry.

This story has been updated.

Concealed handguns will come to Texas public colleges this August, under the new state law known as "campus carry."

Colleges around the state have been preparing for that, and now the University of Houston system has finalized plans for its main campus and other institutions.

The plans were presented before the UH board of regents at its meeting Thursday in Victoria, and Chairman Tilman Fertitta had a few questions.

"We're probably O.K. with whatever you guys decide," Fertitta told members of the campus carry work group. "We'd just like to know where are you allowed to carry and what is excluded."

Dona Cornell, general counsel for UH and who helped draft the policy, said that there are 12 main areas where concealed weapons will be prohibited, including almost all of the dorms.

"The exclusion zones that we have put into the policy — this policy as well as the policy for each campus — are pretty narrowly focused," Cornell said.

UH has its own policy, and the other schools in the system in Victoria, Clear Lake and downtown Houston also have their own campus carry policies. They are all similar, but not identical, Cornell said.

At the main campus, the majority of campus will be open for people with concealed handgun licenses to carry their weapons.

"Classrooms are open," Cornell said. "Walking around campus is open, not subject to an exclusion. Offices are not subject to an exclusion."

It's the presence of weapons in private faculty offices that has concerned professors the most, according to Jonathan Snow, the president of the UH Faculty Senate.

"When a student comes into your office, you may have some very heated or some very, very emotionally-laden conversations and someone coming into your private space with a weapon just makes nearly everyone uncomfortable," Snow said.

The faculty senates at both UH and UH Downtown passed resolutions against campus carry, protesting it would hurt the learning environment.

At the regents meeting, Fertitta gave his own prediction of how campus carry will impact higher education.

"It's all a process and I just don't see it as an issue," he said. "People are going to know where they shouldn't take a gun and it's going to work out fine. And I just don't think it's going to be an issue."

Fertitta compared the situation to a different new state law that permits open carry of weapons in public spaces. The mega-restauranteur said that open carry law didn't have any impact on his restaurants or his hotels.

"It's not going to have any impact on a student on a campus. It's a non-issue," Fertitta added.

Chancellor Renu Khator said that they will work to limit the impact.

"One will have to see where it goes but I think we can for sure do everything possible to make sure that doesn't happen—which will come from more discussions, more conversations, education, trainings, awareness and we are prepared to do all of those things," Khator said.

Campus carry takes effect in August at Texas public four-year institutions. It will take effect next year at community colleges.

Private universities are allowed to opt out and many of them have decided to keep guns off campus.