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Some Private Schools Aim for Campus Carry Opt-Out

As public universities in Texas prepare to implement the state's new campus carry law, some private universities are navigating the process of opting out of the provision.

UT Austin is holding its first of two public forums tonight as it decides how to comply with the new law that allows concealed weapons on college campuses in Texas. Public universities must comply with the law, which goes into effect August 1, 2016, but private universities can opt out. Still, there is plenty of uncertainty for private institutions going through the opt-out process.

Like public universities implementing the law, private universities wishing to opt out must first consult with students, faculty and staff on campus before making a decision. However, it’s unclear what and how much consulting these schools need to do.

“It does make it more difficult to define what is a sufficient survey of the community,” says Mischelle Diaz in the public relations office at St. Edward’s University in South Austin. “It is something that we’re working through right now...because there is nothing specific prescribed.”

As of now, it’s unclear if the state will provide any specific guidance. The law’s author Senator Bryan Birdwell did not return a call for comment.

Still, Diaz says St. Edward’s intends to opt out of the campus carry law. But first it’s consulting with other private universities and the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas (ICUT) to determine the best way to consult with everyone on campus.

ICUT President Ray Martinez says, although colleges have a year to make this decision, many want to make a decision sooner.

“There are questions coming from parents, coming from alumni, and questions coming from prospective students that in many ways compel our presidents to try to get a process going as quickly as possible.”

Huston-Tillitson University representatives say they intend to opt out, but still need to survey students and staff, and Concordia University says it has not yet made a decision. 

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