Some assistant instructors at the University of Texas have moved student meetings to a bar on campus where guns are not allowed, so they don’t have to worry about the newly implemented concealed carry law.
Mark Sheridan is one of those instructors and a graduate student. He said he wasn’t alone in his decision, “I and many other grad students wanted to find a space where we could hold our office hours without guns legally being allowed,” he said. He along with many others are holding their office hours at “The Cactus Café.” It's still on campus but a sign clearly states near the door that 51% percent or more of its profits are based on alcohol sales which means weapons are not allowed.
Professors with private offices have the option of allowing students to carry concealed or not, but as a graduate student Sheridan said he doesn't have his own office, so he had to improvise. “I see firearms as a risk fundamentally; it's about workplace safety for me.” Sheridan said being a student and getting a college education can be stressful. “You can talk to any instructor, any faculty member, and they will tell you, including me about instances in which students have been upset or even angry at you and you've felt uncomfortable.” Sheridan said in his opinion allowing guns in meetings could make some situations unsafe, “I was a little bit worried about a student I was interacting with, and we believe when you add firearms into such a high stress environment, it can only go wrong basically,” he said.
Those with “Students for Concealed Carry” said quite the opposite that bar meetings put everyone at a greater risk. Brian Bensimon is the Southwest Regional Director, “When they go to a bar, they are actually more likely to be a victim of violence there then they are if they just had it at a regular classroom or a place that did allow it.” Bensimon said they are just trying to get around the law. “I think that when you have these kinds of battles, when you feel very strongly on an issue the correct arena is the political arena. I don't think that you should be going over the law or maybe finding loopholes to not implement the law in the way it was originally intended,” he said.
J.B. Bird is the Director of Media Relations & Digital Newsroom with UT, he said in a statement "This is something graduate students have been able to do and by accounts have done for many years."
Using a bar for his office is something Sheridan said he will keep doing. “I see firearms if they're carried by someone who is legally eligible or carried by someone not legally eligible. I see it as a risk to my own safety, so I am just taking action to minimize that risk."