Inside Higher Ed featured a story yesterday about universities that allow students to bring their guns to campus if they have concealed-carry permits, and states like Texas and Missouri where oh-so-brave state legistlators are working hard to make sure that people can walk around packing heat on their state university campuses. Guess whose very own Baa Ram U. is a model according to Second Amendment fundamentalists? Yes, indeedy–this is why I asked last year where I could find a high-fashion Kevlar vest.
This has been on my mind lately because of a disturbing incident that happened in a class taught by a colleague of mine in the College of Liberal Arts, in the main classroom building we all use. She told me that mid-way through a midterm exam a few weeks ago, a masked man opened the door to her 123-capacity lecture hall and started screaming semi-coherently. He then slammed the door to the lecture hall and moved on to scream at the class next door. She and her (female) TA spent a few terrifying seconds expecting that the yelling was a prologue to mass-murder by the masked man, and she reported later that she had 8-10 e-mails from women students who expressed the same fear. However, when she reported this to the chair of her department and the dean, she said that their response was less than satisfactory–although my colleague said that she thought the screaming man was performing on behalf of people running for student government (and that she knew for whose campaign he worked), she was told that because he was masked and she couldn’t identify him positively that there was nothing the college could do. The administration treated it like the joke the masked man intended it to be–but that’s not how it was experienced by many of the women in that room at the moment. Ha-ha! So amusing!
This seems to be yet another example of how men and women on college campuses perceive their safety and therefore how they must use their campuses very differently, and how young male students have so much more liberty than even senior women faculty, even during the work day and in their own classes. Does Baa Ram U. really think that opening classroom doors and screaming is really conducive to a learning environment? Are women students and faculty–and the majority of non-disruptive men–entitled to work in peace? Or do the lunatics really run the asylum?
One thing I was grateful for was that despite the Masked Intruder’s juvenile and thoughtless behavior, I am glad that he wasn’t shot dead by a Concealed-Carry Avenger who brought a gun to his exam. So yet again I wonder: how can any reasonable person think that more guns are the answer, ever? The Inside Higher Ed story makes it clear that most university administrators understand the population they’re dealing with:
[Chris] Kelly[, a Missouri state legislator,] bases his opposition partly on experiences as a judge in Columbia, home to the University of Missouri’s flagship campus, among other colleges. After witnessing the prevalence of alcohol among college students, Kelly says he’s worried about adding guns to the mix.
“College boys love things that go boom, and there is a direct and geometric relationship between the amount of beer they’ve had and the amount they like boom,” he said. “You give them a six pack and boom gets really attractive; that’s a problem.”
That opposition is shared by Gary Forsee, president of the University of Missouri System.
“Missouri’s college students should be allowed to learn and exchange ideas in an environment free from the threat of concealed guns,” he said in a statement. “It is hard to imagine that such a proposal could gain support given the magnitude of gun-related tragedies experienced on college campuses across the country.”
All good points–but yet again, women’s rights to liberty and safety on their own campus aren’t mentioned at all. The discourse on this is only about how men currently use the space at their universities, as though men’s and women’s interests are identical. Are women people? In an era in which there are more women college students than men students, why are we still making decisions based men’s interests and men’s behaviors only? State legislators should instead grapple with this fact and recognize that male students are only a minority on college campuses, and that there are very few women college students agitating for their “right” to be armed on campus. Why let the tail wag the dog?