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Summer 2023 articles

Shifting Lines of Force: Campus Carry and Power at The University of Texas at Austin

Albion M. Butters

Abstract

By passing “Campus Carry” law in 2015, the Texas state legislature made it legal for licensed adults to bring concealed handguns onto public university premises, including the classroom. The result was a cascade of shifting power dynamics, from the state’s “power over” the sanctum of the Ivory Tower to the university administration’s defiance of faculty and student protestors. In the classroom itself, preexisting mechanisms of power were contested and even inverted, with ideological fractures reflected in rhetoric and pedagogy. This paper employs mixed-methods ethnography to expose the multiple lines of force at UT Austin after the law was implemented and highlight the historical significance of this case for universities elsewhere in the United States where similar laws are planned or currently being passed.

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Any person with a gun has the power to intimidate. They always have power over an un-weaponized individual.
Testimonial, UT Austin undergraduate (February 14, 2019)

1. Introduction

  • 1 For historical context on the 1966 Tower shooting, see a contemporary series of articles by Joan Ne (...)

1On May 31, 2015, the Texas State Legislature passed Senate Bill 11, granting those with a license to carry (LTC) the right to bear arms on public university campuses. Governor Greg Abbott signed SB 11 into law the very next day, and Texas became the eighth U.S. state to have a so-called “Campus Carry” law. Despite the fact that academic communities statewide were overwhelmingly opposed to the law, slightly more than a year later—on August 1, 2016—the law went into effect, in practice permitting students to bring their handguns into the classroom. Due to its tragic legacy as the site of the first mass shooting in the United States1 and the ideological juxtapositions it offers as a liberal nexus in relation to rural Texas, UT Austin serves as a poignant locus for gun studies and, in particular, the rollout of Campus Carry.

  • 2 [For the sake of anonymity, specific information on the research project will be added after peer r (...)

2This article examines the relationship between Campus Carry and power—both real and imagined—in several ways. First, it draws on official sources and ethnography conducted at The University of Texas at Austin2 to reveal how classrooms were included among the places where concealed handguns are allowed, highlighting the (lack of) power of the actors at various levels—namely, university administrators, faculty, and students—to affect the process. This overview establishes the context for the discussion that follows.

3Second, it explores practical implications and lived experiences of a power shift in the classroom due to the added presence of firearms, evidenced most clearly in acts of resistance by instructors and an inversion of the traditional hierarchy of professors over students. Because Campus Carry is often claimed to impact classroom discussion and the very ideals of academic freedom, the issue needs to be understood in the context of a contested cultural landscape. Taking the classroom as emblematic of the Ivory Tower and the imaginaries associated with it, representing either aloof withdrawal from politicization or a moral bastion with a civil duty to offer commentary regarding the world outside, the article suggests that guns on campus represent a sort of annexation, reflecting an ideological collision between institutions of higher education and political forces exerted by the world outside.

  • 3 Katherine Bennett et al., “University Faculty Attitudes Toward Guns on Campus,” Journal of Criminal (...)
  • 4 Amy Thompson et al., “Student Perceptions and Practices Regarding Carrying Concealed Handguns on Un (...)
  • 5 Jeff Hosking, “Campus security director perceptions concerning the influence of concealed carry fir (...)
  • 6 James Price et al., “University Presidents’ Perceptions and Practice Regarding the Carrying of Conc (...)
  • 7 Dominic M. Beggan, “Texas Hold ‘Em: An Exploration of the Divergent Perspectives of Texas’s Campus (...)
  • 8 Ryan P. Patten et al., “Sweating Bullets: Female Attitudes Regarding Concealed Weapons and the Perc (...)

4Third, this article analyzes the nature of power in this case as being both implicit and physical. Previous research on Campus Carry has tracked perceptions among faculty,3 students,4 campus security directors and members of university law enforcement,5 and even presidents of institutions of higher education.6 Some studies have focused on questions of safety and security,7 others on gender-related issues.8 Yet, it is important to note that most of these have been conducted at universities where firearms carrying was merely a hypothetical possibility, not a reality. The significance of the current work is that Campus Carry had actually been implemented at UT Austin when the fieldwork was done, allowing an investigation of repercussions within the academic environment.

  • 9 Albion M. Butters, “Fear in the Classroom: Campus Carry at The University of Texas at Austin,” Texa (...)
  • 10 Shirley K. Drew, “Making Sense of Campus Carry at Pittsburg State University,” The Midwest Quarterl (...)

5In terms of the practical impact of Campus Carry, the article examines weaponized rhetoric around guns in class, how the presence of firearms impacts classroom discussion and communication between students and instructors, and how the affect of the classroom environment has changed due to fear of concealed carry.9 Scholars have sought to “make sense” of Campus Carry in relation to academic culture or academic freedom,10 inherent in which are questions of power reflected in shifting social dynamics or the physically manifest potential for deadly force. The current article follows these studies by stressing the importance of local context while simultaneously encompassing the micro-environment of the classroom and the broader issues in higher education that Campus Carry entails.

2. A Cascade of Power Over

6Before Campus Carry ever arrived in a Texas university classroom, questions of its implementation instigated negotiations between multiple actors. Unlike in other states (e.g., Utah, Oregon) where universities were not allowed a role in outlining how the law would be implemented, public institutions of higher education in Texas were given a year to individually determine how it would work for them in practice. Internal units were set up to determine what areas would be off-limits. At UT Austin, these consisted of the Campus Carry Policy Working Group (CCPWG) and the Implementation Task Force. But while the decision to exempt patient-care zones or labs with highly hazardous materials was straightforward, other areas became a source of great contention. This was especially the case with classrooms, with professors arguing that the presence of guns there would lead to a decrease in the quality of teaching.

  • 11 Gun Free UT, “UT Faculty Council Passes New Resolutions on Campus Carry,” January 25, 2016, http:// (...)
  • 12 Campus Concealed Carry Implementation Task Force Report, September 1, 2016, https://utexas.app.box. (...)

7In November 2015, the UT Austin Faculty Council passed a number of resolutions on Campus Carry, the very first of which unequivocally declared: “Classrooms should be gun-exclusion zones.”11 The following month, when the CCPWG published its report, it dutifully included the objections made by faculty and students, and even such national organizations as the American Association of University Professors and the Association of American Colleges and Universities. What is more, it added that it was in unanimous agreement with them: “The Working Group is aware of, and sympathetic to, the overwhelming sentiment on campus that concealed carry should not be permitted in classrooms. Every member of the Working Group—including those who are gun owners and license holders—thinks it would be best if guns were not allowed in classrooms.”12 In the end, however, the decision of UT Austin’s administrators was to not make classrooms gun-exclusory spaces. According to one of the university officials in charge of implementation, this decision came down to a blanket application of the law:

  • 13 Interview, UT Austin administrator, April 26, 2018.

You can’t give the impression… that you really are excluding everything—for example, I think, four hundred and eighty classrooms or something like that. If you banned… concealed carry in all of the classrooms, and you did that effectively, then you banned across campus. So, we felt, and the lawyers felt, that that would be an overextension of the law and would be something we couldn’t do.13

  • 14 Gregory Fenves. “Transmittal letter to Chancellor McRaven, Office of the President,” The University (...)
  • 15 Office of the President, The University of Texas at Austin, “UT Austin's Campus Carry Policies,” Fe (...)
  • 16 Fenves, “Transmittal letter to Chancellor McRaven.”

8UT Austin President Gregory Fenves concurred. Although stating that he personally did not believe that handguns belonged on a university campus, being “contrary to our mission of education and research, which is based on inquiry, free speech, and debate,”14 and confessing that the imbroglio represented the greatest challenge of his office to date, he felt that he had no choice: “Under the law, I cannot adopt a policy that has the general effect of excluding licensed concealed handguns from campus. I agree with the working group that a classroom exclusion would have this effect.”15 Unlike presidents of large private universities in Texas—which, he noted, had the power to reject SB 11 and ubiquitously did so—his hands were tied, since presidents of public universities had “no such broad discretion.”16

  • 17 Testimonial, UT Austin undergraduate, February 14, 2019.
  • 18 Interview, UT Austin faculty, March 28, 2018.

9The academic community was divided in their perceptions of the university administrators’ lack of will to stand up to the legislature. Even though Fenves’s predicament was clear, many felt that his statements held little weight. As one student wrote in a testimonial, “The letter the university presidents in Texas signed saying that they did not agree with the law largely means nothing to me, as I know they know they were in a powerless position to change anything, so a letter like that is just good PR.”17 Others were more critical, finding political expediency in Fenves’s decision, believing that he and Chancellor William H. McRaven had “completely caved” on the issue.18

  • 19 Interview, UT Austin faculty, April 4, 2018; Interview, UT Austin faculty, April 24, 2018.
  • 20 Interview, UT Austin faculty, April 27, 2018.
  • 21 Interview, UT Austin faculty, April 24, 2018; see also Evan Smith, “A Conversation with Dan Patrick (...)

10What many did not know, however, is that the government was exerting significant leverage over the university outside of the legal mandate itself. Compliance by the university administration was compelled by the budgetary power that the state exerted.19 Moreover, a greater power play appears to have been taking place behind the scenes. In one instance, a state legislator threatened UT Austin overtly at a town hall meeting on Campus Carry; a professor who was present reported him saying, “If I feel too much pushback, something worse is going to happen.”20 Another professor felt that GOP legislators were welcoming resistance and the opportunity to then assert control over UT Austin, recasting it more in the mold of Texas A&M University.21

  • 22 Sampo Ruoppila and Albion M. Butters, “Not a ‘Non-issue’: Perceptions and Realities of Campus Carry (...)

11Once the decision was made to permit guns on the university premises, it fell to the Implementation Task Force headed by Col. Gerald “Bob” Harkins to specify how that would impact different campus spaces. In practice, the presence of firearms was discursively mapped across legal lines and ontological domains: today concealed carry is allowed in dormitories but not individual dorm rooms, in labs but not those with dangerous materials, in shared offices but not offices of individual faculty members who orally forbid it, and in classrooms except in certain circumstances (e.g., when K–12 student visitors are present). While perceptions about the appropriateness of Campus Carry in these different areas widely varied, however, classrooms were consistently held as a place—more than any other—where firearms should not be allowed.22 And yet, intentionally or not, the Implementation Task Force’s final report glossed over this important area, not even mentioning them by name; instead of being singled out as a special location, classrooms were subsumed under the larger category of “university building,” a generic space where Campus Carry fully applies without any restriction or exception.

  • 23 Matthew Watkins, “Nobel Laureate Professor: I’m Banning Guns in My UT Classroom,” The Texas Tribune(...)
  • 24 Rachel Fernandez, “Graduate Student Reassigned After Syllabus Required Students with Concealed Weap (...)

12And yet questions still remained. When UT Austin’s President Gregory Fenves was pressed on whether gun-carrying students would need to sit at the back of the class, he demurred that he did not think so.23 The Working Group agreed. Freedom of movement has been standard procedure in other states with Campus Carry laws, since forcing LTC-holders into a specific space “outs” them as carrying and thereby contravenes the legal requirement of weapons remaining concealed; hence, they need to be able to move freely around the classroom and sit where they like. The only notable historic exception to this policy was a brief period when an unidentified graduate student at the University of Utah demanded that anyone in her class carrying a gun stand in a so-called “Second Amendment zone,” which was defined by a taped-off one-meter square at the very back of the room. She defended the absurdly small size of this space by pointing out that there would be no desk there, “because desks are reserved for students who respect the personal and psychological safety of their classmates and instructor.”24 In the face of public backlash and national media coverage, the University of Utah promptly censured the student and revoked her teaching privileges. While this case evidences the hard cultural collision between legal exigencies and anti-gun ideology, in which there may be little room for negotiation or protest, guns were finally introduced into the classroom at UT Austin after months of strong mobilized resistance.

3. Resistance to Guns in the Classroom

  • 25 Texas House of Representatives in 1997, 1999, 2009, 2013 (see https://house.texas.gov/); Texas Sena (...)
  • 26 Although the petition’s language was initially stronger, it was subsequently softened to get more f (...)

13When Campus Carry was being considered by the legislature, there was only limited mobilization against it. Similar bills had come and gone before in Texas, but they were never passed.25 When SB 11 made it through, however, things changed dramatically. A faculty-led group named Gun-Free UT was quick to organize, hold rallies and gather professors’ signatures on a petition to oppose the new law.26 There was strong initial momentum for this campaign, and as its popularity rapidly swelled it became visually prominent on campus. In turn, this attracted fresh members to the group, leading to exponential growth in the fall of 2015 (see Figure 1).


Figure 1. Building a movement—opposition to Campus Carry grows among UT Austin faculty. Photo credits: Jenah Ovalles-Forey; Jay Janner (
Austin American-Statesman).
  • 27 On the activism of graduate students, see Gun Free UT, “1787 UT Graduate and Professional Students (...)

14If the core concern of the faculty was to keep guns out of the classroom, this was not the primary focus of later protests by undergraduates, including the globally publicized “dildo rally” by the student-led Cocks Not Glocks group on August 24, 2016, whose strategy was to highlight the irony of the illegality of carrying sex toys on campus when concealed handguns were allowed. Many students did indeed support Gun-Free UT and confessed fear about guns in class, but their activism tended to be more general and came later. Accordingly, while it was mostly professors and graduate students who attended the CCPWG hearings, forming the first line of defense against the implementation of the new law, the students’ activism brought international media attention to UT Austin after guns were already on campus.27

  • 28 Shaundra K. Lewis and Daniel Alejandro De Luna, “Symposium on ‘Texas Gun Law and the Future’: The F (...)
  • 29 Gun Free UT, “Economics Professor Emeritus Daniel Hamermesh Withdraws From UT,” October 7, 2015, ht (...)
  • 30 Matthew Watkins, “UT Architecture Dean Cites Campus Carry as a Reason for Departure,” The Texas Tri (...)

15When it became clear that the university was not going to exclude classrooms as gun-free zones, faculty at UT Austin reacted in very different ways, be it through personal reactions, seeking legal recourse against the policy, or continued activism, both outside and in the classroom. For some instructors, the sense of personal jeopardy was simply too great, and they chose either to retire or to teach elsewhere, such as at a private university or in a state with no Campus Carry law.28 This was the case with Professor Emeritus Daniel Hamermesh, for example, who had taught macroeconomics at UT Austin for two decades but was concerned about the possibility of a “disgruntled student” bringing a gun into class and shooting at him,29 and Professor Fritz Steiner, who had served as the dean of the School of Architecture since 2001.30 These examples reflect the ability of well-respected academics at their zenith of their career to command a shift of position, yet that option was not necessarily available to all.

  • 31 Matthew Watkins, “Three UT Professors Sue to Block Campus Carry,” The Texas Tribune, July 6, 2016, (...)
  • 32 Interview, UT Austin faculty, April 24, 2018.
  • 33 Interview, UT Austin staff, April 16, 2018; Interview, UT Austin graduate student, April 25, 2018; (...)
  • 34 Watkins, “Nobel Laureate Professor.”

16Others expressed their agency and opposition through public statements to the media, a legal case brought against the state,31 and/or demonstrations on campus. Again, however, there was a disparity of power held by activists. Those with tenure could feel bold in speaking out, but the less secure status of junior members with “contingent contracts… complicated things.”32 According to graduate students and staff, it was seen as better to avoid confrontation with the institution.33 Even Nobel Laureate Professor Steven Weinberg, who had proclaimed that he would outright forbid guns in his class, was forced to back down.34

  • 35 Interview, UT Austin undergraduate, March 27, 2018.
  • 36 Focus group (pro-Campus Carry), UT Austin undergraduates, April 19, 2018.
  • 37 See also Patricia Somers and Nicholas Phelps, “Not Chilly Enough? Texas Campus Carry and Academic F (...)

17Even as their means of resistance continued to shrink, however, faculty were not shy to use the classroom—the primary locus of contestation and traditionally a domain where instructors did wield control—as an ideological Maginot Line to defend their position. One student recalled, “Teachers definitely made students aware of their beliefs”35 Another agreed, “Every time I have sat in a professor’s class that has been against it, they have made it vocal.”36 To address the presence of armed students and an often polarized environment, professors employed different strategies, ranging from overt threats to debate to an integration of the opposing sides.37

  • 38 Interview, UT Austin undergraduate, April 4, 2018.
  • 39 John R. P. French and Bertram Raven, “The Bases of Social Power,” in Studies in Social Power, ed. D (...)
  • 40 Focus group (pro-Campus Carry), UT Austin undergraduates, April 19, 2018.

18The first of these revealed a new divide between instructors and students, an “us versus them” mentality where existing mechanisms of power were leveraged as a way to make statements against guns in the classroom—and those who would bring them there. For example, one student remembered their professor threatening, “Look, you are legally allowed to have it. [But] if I see a gun, if I know you have a gun, you will fail this course.”38 In pedagogical theory, this type of attempt to influence student behavior is understood as coercive behavior.39 Another student, who did actually carry on campus, recalled how their instructor’s resistance to Campus Carry “stifled the atmosphere in their own classroom.”40 In this case, the perceived “chilling effect” was created by the instructor.

  • 41 Interview, UT Austin faculty, April 24, 2018.
  • 42 Ibid.
  • 43 William Rudy, The Campus and a Nation in Crisis: From the American Revolution to Vietnam (London an (...)
  • 44 Focus group (pro-Campus Carry), UT Austin undergraduates, April 19, 2018.

19Some professors felt forced into the position of having to discuss Campus Carry in class. As one explained, “I don’t feel like I cannot not speak out about it or against it. I just feel like I have no choice”; this discussion could go in multiple directions, including both objective and subjective perspectives: “talking about this law and what the problems with this law [are].”41 Due to the explicit positionality in this collision of praxis and polemics, the public space of the classroom was “really political right up front,”42 and at the very outset of the semester it turned into an arena for competing personal views. This transformation of lectern into a bully pulpit has deep roots in United States history. So-called “citizen-professors” have used the classroom to protest wars from Vietnam to Iraq, ultimately reflecting John Dewey’s conception of education as a vehicle for democracy, “creating a public arena in which controversial issues—in principle—can be resolved, or at least handled, through dialogue rather than through pre-established forms of power.”43 It is worth noting that this ideal was also realized in practice at UT Austin. For example, undergraduates who supported Campus Carry shared their appreciation for the opportunity to debate the issue in class, reflecting a dialogic relationship lacking impositions of hierarchy.44

  • 45 Gun Free UT, “Press Release: Gun-Free UT Hosting Teach-in on Campus Carry,” January 20, 2016, http: (...)
  • 46 Interview, UT Austin undergraduate, March 27, 2018.

20Finally, other UT Austin instructors sought to bridge the ideological divide. As one example, professors and university staff offered teach-ins on the effectiveness of collective non-violence and de-escalation,45 and students who attended such events found them to be helpful.46 In another, a professor and activist against Campus Carry regularly integrated mindfulness exercises into their class curriculum, in order to promote community and commonality in the face of polarity. In their experience, appealing to a shared sense of threat in the face of mass shootings has been an effective way to bridge the divide:

  • 47 Interview, UT Austin faculty, April 27, 2018.

Actually, since this law has come into effect, one big change in my teaching is that I now start every single class that I teach at every level with five minutes of meditation. That is because I do see students as much more rattled in the wake of this legislation and with the rise in gun violence and mass shootings in the last several years.… What I say to the students is, I am just as rattled as you are. I am just as overwhelmed. I don’t know what to do. This is one thing that we can have in place that allows us to get together. Take a minute to focus on the fact that we are here together for a reason, which is to learn, that we are safe with each other right now. Let’s bring our attention to the task at hand”47

  • 48 Ibid.
  • 49 Firmin DeBrabander, Do Guns Make Us Free? Democracy and the Armed Society (New Haven & London: Yale (...)
  • 50 According to Beth Titchiner, while violent epistemologies may be enacted on the basis of anxiety or (...)
  • 51 On historical examples of how inner revolution can effect a transformation of martial worldviews (e (...)

21Apparently this exercise has been unanimously welcomed. When asked, no students—including those who favor Campus Carry—have wanted to end the moments of meditation.48 Offering a space outside of polarization and polemics, they suggest an alternative to profiling of the Other, and perhaps even an opening into interrogations about the nature of the self supposedly needing defending. This is what philosopher Firmin DeBrabander hints at in contrasting the attitude of the Stoics versus that of gun rights advocates, “Freedom is a state of mental resolve, not armed resolve.”49 The real significance of returning the frame to the shared objective of learning, therefore, is not only that it potentially builds in-class cohesion, subverting violent epistemologies about who is right,50 but that by opening the dialectic playing field beyond positionality, it supports a more fundamental transformation of perspective of parties on all sides, including the deconstruction of gun imaginaries. Compared to the other modes of resistance to Campus Carry used by faculty—namely, completely eschewing the system in which firearms are permitted or engaging in diametric opposition to it—the attempts to de-escalate the situation can be described more as a type of inner revolution regarding how one views and responds to the Other.51

  • 52 Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (New York: Vintage Books, 1977); Ma (...)

22Thus, although the “power over” aspect of the legislative and university’s implementation of Campus Carry did not give instructors a choice about guns being in their classroom, they were not entirely powerless. On the contrary, the various forms of their resistance represented new behaviors as practices of power both within and outside the institutional frame. Rather than being mere objects seemingly oppressed by the system, they exerted force from below. At the same time, their acts with students in the classroom exerted power in a different locus. These contestations exemplify Foucault’s theory of power as something that is practiced rather than possessed, but they also signal the relationality of power, namely, that it is found in relations between people.52 It is through this lens that the discussion will now move to explore how Campus Carry specifically impacted instructors and students vis-à-vis each another.

4. Inversions of Power in the Classroom

  • 53 French and Raven, “The Bases of Social Power.”
  • 54 Schrodt et al., “Reconsidering the measurement of teacher power use in the college classroom”; 2007 (...)

23Within the field of education, considerable attention has been directed to power dynamics between instructors and students. Teachers can exert power in a myriad of ways: for example, reference, reward, expert, legitimate, and coercive forms.53 In practice, various measures exist, such as the Teacher Power Use Scale, to determine students’ perceptions of teachers’ use of these five types of power, which alternatively lead to prosocial or antisocial learning environments.54 Regarding the latter, legitimate power emphasizes behavior based on policy backed by the administration, or the instructor communicating to the students that their needs take priority, leading to a distant and formal relationship with the class. Coercive forms, on the other hand, entail threats made by the teacher in order that the student behave in a certain way, as seen above in regard to carrying guns in class.

  • 55 Timothy Mottet, Ann B. Frymier and Steven A. Beebe, “Theorizing about instructional communication,” (...)
  • 56 Carrie D. Kennedy-Lightsey and Scott A. Myers, “College Students’ Use of Behavioral Alteration Tech (...)
  • 57 Interview, St. Edward’s faculty, April 26, 2018; Interview, St. Edward’s faculty, April 27, 2018; I (...)
  • 58 Interview 1, UT Austin faculty, April 17, 2018.

24Beyond the traditional understanding that instructors control the relationship, however, the flip side has also been a subject of research. For instance, scholars also employ relational power and instructional influence theory to reveal the types of persuasion and social power that students have.55 Among the various behavior alternation techniques they may use, verbal aggressiveness is noted as an especially antisocial means of achieving compliance with their goals.56 In interviews, instructors shared experiences of students having outbursts and yelling at them, but for those at UT Austin the possibility that a firearm might also be present was an even greater worry, even causing them to change what marks they gave.57 As one professor confessed, “I think for a while I started grading really wimpily.”58

  • 59 See Jones and Horan, “Guns on campus,” 429. It should also be noted that, even though faculty may a (...)

25Furthermore, students understood this dynamic as well; according to a survey conducted in 2019, more than a third of UT Austin undergraduates stated that professors might be afraid to issue bad grades out of fear of violence. One could even wonder how many students have benefited from or taken advantage of this; the hidden nature of the concealed handgun does not mean that a threat has to be explicit, and mere innuendo or a suggestion may be weaponized. In this way, Campus Carry served to invert the traditional power dynamic within the classroom, with the shift not being due to any overt action on the part of the student but dependent on the instructor’s perceptions of the student’s potential for aggression.59

  • 60 When Campus Carry is invoked as a form of legitimate power (see French and Raven), however, the ant (...)

26For instructors, the tension was not only due to the new type of power introduced into the shared social space but also the lack of visibility associated with it. Unlike a militarily superior force intentionally demonstrating its firepower advantage to shock and awe an inferior enemy, who in comparison may need to resort to covert strategies of resistance, the deterrent effect of Campus Carry is predicated on secrecy. It is not actually necessary for a gun to be there; it is sufficient that it may be there. In fact, the legality of the gun is predicated on its concealment; only in this way is the practice of Campus Carry legitimate.60

  • 61 Foucault, Discipline and Punish, 201–2.
  • 62 Focus group (anti-Campus Carry), UT Austin undergraduates, April 26, 2018.

27Yet, another type of power inversion results from the lack of visibility of the weapon. If previously the student was subjected to the instructor’s disciplinary gaze (le regard), contextualized by Foucault in relation to a “field of visibility” that forces one to behave, the concealed weapon creates an opposing field of invisibility, in a parallel manner “creating and sustaining a power relation independent of the person who exercises it.”61 As a UT Austin student put it, “It’s not like, ‘Oh, this one specific person probably has a gun.’ [It’s] like the notion that literally anybody in my classroom could have a gun and I wouldn’t know.”62

  • 63 Jeremy Bentham, The Panopticon Writings, ed. Miran Božovič (London and New York: Verso, 1995).
  • 64 Michel Foucault, “The Eye of Power,” in Power/Knowledge, Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 19 (...)
  • 65 Joe Lewis, “The College Campus as Panopticon: How Security and Surveillance Are Undermining Free In (...)
  • 66 Information Security Office, The University of Texas at Austin, https://security.utexas.edu/panopti (...)

28The inverted power dynamic can be demonstrated well by the example of Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon, a type of prison designed for optimal surveillance and control: situated in a central tower, the “overseer” is surrounded by a ring of cells.63 For Foucault, the advantage of this spatial configuration is the visibility it affords. Being able to directly shine a light on a prisoner denies them the protection of darkness, such as found in a dungeon, rendering them vulnerable to the disciplinary gaze.64 Scholars have subsequently applied the analogy to universities, sometimes drawing facile comparisons but also critically examining the specific nature of power employed in the educational context.65 In the case of The University of Texas at Austin, however, there is no denying the clear connection. The incident management software used by the Information Security Office since 2004 is literally named PANOPTICON, and its website offers an illustration of the ideal prison (see Figure 2).66 One could even wonder if the powerful imagery is meant to implicitly suggest the iconic Tower that stands in the center of the UT Austin campus.


Figure 2. Screenshots from Information Security Office website, UT Austin.
  • 67 Bentham, The Panopticon Writings, 9.

29In the panopticon, the overseer in the tower is shielded from view, thereby increasing the prisoners’ level of fear and uncertainty and making more effective the intended result of compliance. To some degree, the same logic applies to university incident software and cameras around campus. But in a lecture hall, the situation is somewhat different. Here, the “invisible omnipresence”67 is comprised of the unknown person(s) carrying a gun, while the instructor in the center, surrounded by students, is all too visible—leading to perceptions that they are a perfect target.

5. The Unintended Middle: The Ivory Tower

  • 68 Interview, UT Austin administrator, April 26, 2018.
  • 69 Hosking, “Campus security director perceptions,” 59; Bartula and Brown, “University and College Off (...)

30On top of the shifting dynamics of power discussed above, the reality of unlocalized guns in the classroom has prompted concerns on the practical level. As noted earlier, Chancellor McRaven, a former Navy SEAL, opposed Campus Carry. So did Art Acevedo, chief of the Austin Police Department. One reason for this is that the broader presence of firearms poses considerable tactical challenges for law enforcement, such as having to distinguish in a crisis moment between an armed “bad guy” and an armed “good guy.” Countering narratives raised by advocates of the law that Campus Carry means “being able to stop things and being able to counter somebody with a gun,” one of the members of the Implementation Task Force explained, “That situation in the classroom becomes kind of concerning to the police, because you walk in, you’ve got a second to identify, you’ve got a gun, is you good or is you bad?”68 Similar worries have been expressed by security officials at other universities considering the legalization of guns on campus.69

  • 70 Inter alia, Interview, UT Austin faculty, April 23, 2018; Interview 2, UT Austin faculty, April 17, (...)
  • 71 Interview 2, UT Austin faculty, April 17, 2018.

31Furthermore, having a license to carry a gun does not necessarily entail sufficient training to discharge it in a public space, not to mention actual combat experience. This came up again and again in interviews, including by those supporting Campus Carry, and only a fifth of UT Austin undergraduates surveyed thought that training for an LTC in Texas was sufficient for gun safety on campus.70 Serious logistical questions arise when the lecture hall or seminar room is filled with gunfire, turning an arena crowded with innocent bystanders into a shooting gallery. This issue came up at St. Edward’s University during discussions on whether to implement Campus Carry, a law that UT Austin was obliged to allow but fell to the discretion of private institutions. One professor at the meeting was upset to hear some colleagues voicing their wish to carry a handgun for classroom protection, and so he argued against it: “If you are going to fire a gun, an intruder comes in the back, you are going to fire over all your students.… Yes, I understand you are worried about your safety and you want to protect yourself and the students, but having a shoot-out with students in the middle, I’m not understanding why you think this is an answer.”71 Like nearly every other private university in Texas, St. Edward’s opted out of Campus Carry, and at least in theory there are no armed instructors or students there. Accordingly, one does not encounter people who may be inadequately trained to respond to a shooter event, thereby putting fellow—largely powerless—members of the academic community in the crossfire of an unintended middle.

32The idea of the unintended middle can also be applied as an analogy for public institutions of higher education caught up in a larger ideological and political battle being waged, with ramifications that may not yet be evident or quantifiable. As one professor explained,

  • 72 Interview, UT Austin faculty, April 27, 2018.

the university has been and needs to be a place that’s different from other places in Texas. It needs to be the place that you come where values are not backed up by violence. The university needs to be about a place of free exchange of ideas and a place of peace. It needs to have a special and separate status, as it has since the Middle Ages, everywhere. It’s a cloister. It’s got kind of a sacred function. I think that we’ve been forced to give that up.72

  • 73 Interview, St. Edward’s faculty, April 27, 2018. On this point, the professor clarified, “The peopl (...)
  • 74 For an overview of the battle over the idiom of the Ivory Tower, see Steven Shapin, “The Ivory Towe (...)
  • 75 Students for Concealed Carry, “Anti-Campus Carry Professors Take a Decidedly Unacademic Approach to (...)

33This idea of the university, defined by another faculty member as a “bastion of reason and intellect” assailed by “outsiders,”73 paints a picture of the Ivory Tower under attack. In fact, this contested imaginary provides a helpful means of better understanding the current power struggle around Campus Carry. Understood originally as a religious sanctum, in the nineteenth century the term “Ivory Tower” was used pejoratively to describe the idyll of academia, disconnected from reality and at a remove from practical quotidian concerns. After World War II there was an attempt by humanists to claim the tower as a citadel of morals and knowledge, a locus of art, culture, and valuable reflection. But by defying assimilation into the larger civic context and rejecting the market forces that would raid its intellectual property, the Ivory Tower again became demonized.74 On the surface, it remains a negative trope, as seen in rhetoric employed by Students for Concealed Carry: “The professors protesting the Lone Star State’s new campus carry law are simply playing into the stereotype of academics as ‘out-of-touch ivory tower elites.’”75 But on a more fundamental level, it signifies a place that should be taken over. As the Texas legislators decided, public universities do not enjoy the “separate status” of a cloister.

  • 76 Interview, St. Edward’s faculty, April 27, 2018.
  • 77 Interview, UT Austin faculty, April 4, 2018.
  • 78 Interview 1, UT Austin faculty, April 17, 2018.
  • 79 Interview, UT Austin faculty, April 27, 2018.
  • 80 Watkins, “Three UT professors sue to block campus carry.” On the question of Campus Carry as a thre (...)

34In interviews, professors discussed the impact of Campus Carry in martial terms. A St. Edward’s faculty member explained, “I think it feels very much like a war.… It feels like an attack on not just college campuses physically, but what we represent, critical thinking and higher inquiry.”76 This was mirrored by an instructor at UT Austin: “You know, this whole Campus Carry has a very anti-intellectual sort of slap to it. It’s saying, you know, ‘We are going to tell you what to do and we are coming with our guns.’”77 Another called it “a really dreadful blow to the culture of the institution and of the educational setting” and “an assault against the public university,”78 while yet another argued, “what I think has happened with guns is, gun advocates and gun marketers have colonized more and more and more space in civil society to the point where now I have a gun pressed up against my face in my class.”79 These statements signal different perspectives on the implementation of Campus Carry. From a spatial perspective, it can be seen as a type of conquest, breaking boundaries and claiming new territory to physically introduce firearms into areas that were previously conceived as off-limits. On a legal level, at least as argued by UT Austin professors who brought a lawsuit against the university, guns in the classroom may represent a privileging of Second Amendment rights over First Amendment rights through the infringement of academic freedom and expression (i.e., the chilling effect).80

  • 81 Interview, UT Austin faculty, April 24, 2018.

35Beneath both of these, however, one can read an antagonistic agenda of forces arrayed against the Ivory Tower, more ideologically driven than corporations or the military-industrial complex seeking patents or scientific research. One professor framed such a program as local to Texas: “Let’s get rid of those professors who don’t want this and many other things.… We would love to see the UT flagship become more like an A&M.”81 Another argued that the legislation was part of a larger strategy:

  • 82 Interview, UT Austin faculty, March 28, 2018.

I think that this is a piece of the concerted attack on universities by the right wing, by the Koch brothers and by people like them, who see universities as liberal institutions that are conveying liberal values, who see teaching critical thinking as a liberal value, who see open classrooms where people can say whatever they want as a liberal value.82

  • 83 Foucault, Discipline and Punish, 27–28.

36Understanding the true target as knowledge production itself ties back to Foucault’s idea that “power and knowledge directly imply one another”; in this sense, “power-knowledge” signifies the processes and struggles that determine the possible domains of knowledge.83 Campus Carry thus signals an underlying rivalry of power structures informed by competing (de)valuations of knowledge. This insight was captured by a UT Austin faculty member interviewed by Patricia Somers and Nicholas Phelps:

  • 84 Somers and Phelps, “Not Chilly Enough?” 8.

My feeling on campus carry is that it speaks to so much more than just what it ostensibly is. It speaks for the real sense of enmity between Texas politicians and intellectuals of any sort. The perception is that we hold them in contempt—not all of them, but many of them…. I would say the right wing is fascinated with power—and so, this is a way they demonstrate their power over us and make it clear, at least they claim, that their intellectual power is of more significance.84

  • 85 See, e.g., Richard Hofstadter, Anti-intellectualism in American Life (New York: Vintage Books, 1963 (...)

37To really comprehend the depth of this argument, it would be necessary to examine anti-intellectualism in the United States, both historically and within the context of the Trump presidency, an exercise that is unfortunately outside the scope of the present study.85 However, it is certainly fair to say that Campus Carry highlights a significant and historical shift in the control of the Ivory Tower.

6. Conclusions

38In examining the question of power and its disruption with the introduction of guns on campus at UT Austin, this article traced the multi-scalar dynamics between the various actors: the legislative body of Texas State and the university administration, the administration and protestors, and the faculty and students in the classroom. Some tentative conclusions may be drawn from the discussion.

  • 86 Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Richelieu (London: Saunders and Otley, 1839).

39First, allowing students to be armed undeniably reverses the traditional power dynamic of the teacher-student relationship. Yet, it also affects the nature of the institution. In this sense, Campus Carry marks a clear transition of power from the Ivory Tower to the State, with LTC-holders providing willing bodies to realize a larger ideological agenda. Although UT Austin’s President Fenves and Chancellor McRaven lobbied against SB 11 when it was still in legislation, as soon as it passed their resistance was muted. Ostensibly held hostage by threats of budgetary cuts, the university got in line with the new model. And with the penetration of firearms into the classroom, the dialectic register was fundamentally altered by the increased potential for gun violence—if only in perception. In practice, the classic saying “the pen is mightier than the sword” from Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s Richelieu has been flipped; through an inversion of the panopticon, the reality of Campus Carry dominates the lectern.86

  • 87 For a historical overview of domestic spy programs in U.S. universities, see David Price, “Uninvite (...)
  • 88 Forum, “A chilly climate on the campuses,” Chronicle of Higher Education, September 9, 2005, B7–13, (...)

40This is not the first time that the classroom has been a site of surveillance and contested force. The way in which Campus Carry represents an unlocalized presence, inverting power hierarchies and disrupting the social structure between students, reminds of the history of domestic intelligence programs placing spies in U.S. classrooms. While such programs to recruit students and monitor faculty have existed for decades, only intensifying after 9/11, awareness within the academic community about such intelligence gathering has dropped in recent years.87 Similarly, right-wing organizations have funded student groups like the Young Americans and the College Republicans to monitor instances of “political bias,” creating a so-called “‘chilly climate’ of self-policing of academic freedom and pedagogy.”88 However, these cannot compare to the chilling effect of guns in class. For this reason, if academics have felt compelled in the past to uphold moral accountability and a critical perspective of society and the State, the price they might pay for doing so has become dearer.

41There is a difference in the way that the lines of force are currently drawn. A police officer entering the classroom to respond to an emergency situation is clearly recognized, as is the gun they are carrying. Alternatively, a CIA-trained student sitting in on a lecture is covert enough that their true identity is unknown, and the threat they may present to the professor they are observing is hardly immediate. Both cases may be unsettling, but—being either explicitly known or completely unknown—neither are fundamentally disruptive to the overarching power dynamic of the class. In contrast, LTC-holders straddle both domains, known and unknown. As a sort of liminal vacuum, they cannot be ignored, identified as an internal or foreign agent, or located. The enigma they embody is a locus of imaginaries on which fears are easily projected.

  • 89 Since Campus Carry has been allowed on university campuses, it has resulted in zero shootings.

42In addition to the above, the apparent connection of Campus Carry to both power and knowledge opens interesting lines for future research. On one hand, it is important to follow the pedagogical impact of guns in the classroom, both specifically in terms of praxis and more generally regarding academic freedom. On the other, there is an opportunity to more closely investigate the significance of anti-intellectualism in the national gun debate, ranging from conspiracy theories and alt-truth (e.g., Sandy Hook, Jade Helm 15) to preconceived fears of Campus Carry engendering shooter events.89

43In effect, one can metaphorically imagine the contest over firearms in Texas as a kind of chessboard, with the gun owner’s home territory on one side, protected under the Castle Doctrine (or defense of habitation law), and the Ivory Tower on the other. In the shared space of the middle is a crossroads where perceptions of insecurity and security meet—with the handgun alternatively seen as a hidden threat or means of self-defense. As Campus Carry destabilizes the (admittedly illusory) concept of the university existing at a remove from the exigencies of the real world, it forces the Academy to grapple with the limitations of its political will. At the same time, by ideally going beyond othering and affecting students’ worldviews, the university’s mission of promoting healthy debate and the advancement of moral ideals represents power-knowledge in its own right.

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Notes

1 For historical context on the 1966 Tower shooting, see a contemporary series of articles by Joan Neuberger et al., “Behind the Tower: New Histories of the UT Tower Shooting,” The Public History Seminar at UT-Austin (2016), http://behindthetower.org/histories.

2 [For the sake of anonymity, specific information on the research project will be added after peer review.] This study employs mixed-methods ethnography conducted in 2018–2019: semi-structured interviews with UT Austin faculty, students, and staff; focus groups with undergraduates and open-ended testimonials; and a representative survey of UT Austin undergrads (N=1,204). In addition, interviews were also conducted with faculty of St. Andrews University, a private institution in Austin which was not compelled to and did not allow guns on campus.

3 Katherine Bennett et al., “University Faculty Attitudes Toward Guns on Campus,” Journal of Criminal Justice Education 23, no. 3 (2012): 336–55; Bennett et al. 2011; Amy Thompson et al., “Faculty Perceptions and Practices Regarding Carrying Concealed Handguns on University Campuses,” Journal of Community Health 38 (2013), 366–73; Patricia P. Dahl et al., “Community College Faculty: Attitudes Toward Guns on Campus,” Community College Journal of Research and Practice 40, no. 8 (2016), 706–17.

4 Amy Thompson et al., “Student Perceptions and Practices Regarding Carrying Concealed Handguns on University Campuses,” Journal of American College Health 61, no. 5 (2013): 243–55; Jaclyn Schildkraut et al., “A tale of two universities: a comparison of college students’ attitudes about concealed carry on campus,” Security Journal 31, no. 2 (2018): 591–617.

5 Jeff Hosking, “Campus security director perceptions concerning the influence of concealed carry firearms on safety at Wyoming public community colleges: a phenomenological study,” PhD dissertation (Colorado State University, 2014); Aaron Bartula and Kendra Brown, “University and College Officials’ Perceptions of Open Carry on College Campus,” Justice Policy Journal 12, no. 2 (2015): 1–17.

6 James Price et al., “University Presidents’ Perceptions and Practice Regarding the Carrying of Concealed Handguns on College Campuses.” Journal of American College Health 62, no. 7 (2014): 461–69.

7 Dominic M. Beggan, “Texas Hold ‘Em: An Exploration of the Divergent Perspectives of Texas’s Campus Carry Law,” Community College Journal of Research and Practice 43, no. 1 (2017): 26–41; James A. Shepperd et al., “Gun attitudes on campus: United and divided by safety needs,” The Journal of Social Psychology 158, no. 5 (2018): 616–25; Joseph De Angelis et al., “Collective Security, Fear of Crime, and Support for Concealed Firearms on a University Campus in the Western United States,” Criminal Justice Review 42, no. 1 (2017): 77–94.

8 Ryan P. Patten et al., “Sweating Bullets: Female Attitudes Regarding Concealed Weapons and the Perception of Safety on College Campuses,” Race, Gender & Class 20, no. 3–4 (2013): 269–90.

9 Albion M. Butters, “Fear in the Classroom: Campus Carry at The University of Texas at Austin,” Texas Education Review 9, no. 1 (2021): 50–63; Hannah E. Jones and Sean M. Horan, “Guns on campus: campus carry and instructor–student communication,” Communication Education 68, no. 4 (2019): 417–37; Albion M. Butters, “Beyond Argumentum in Terrorem: The Contested Rhetoric of Campus Carry,” Journal of American Studies 55, no. 2 (2021): 262–73.

10 Shirley K. Drew, “Making Sense of Campus Carry at Pittsburg State University,” The Midwest Quarterly 59, no. 1 (2017): 81–98; Christopher M. Wolcott, “The Chilling Effect of Campus Carry: How the Kansas Campus Carry Statute Impermissibly Infringes Upon the Academic Freedom of Individual Professors and Faculty Members,” University of Kansas Law Review 65 (2017): 875–911.

11 Gun Free UT, “UT Faculty Council Passes New Resolutions on Campus Carry,” January 25, 2016, http://gunfreeut.org/ut-faculty-council-passes-new-resolutions-on-campus-carry/.

12 Campus Concealed Carry Implementation Task Force Report, September 1, 2016, https://utexas.app.box.com/v/campus-carry-report.

13 Interview, UT Austin administrator, April 26, 2018.

14 Gregory Fenves. “Transmittal letter to Chancellor McRaven, Office of the President,” The University of Texas at Austin, February 17, 2017, https://utexas.app.box.com/v/mcraven-cc-transmittal-letter.

15 Office of the President, The University of Texas at Austin, “UT Austin's Campus Carry Policies,” February 17, 2017, https://president.utexas.edu/messages-speeches-2016/campus-carry-policies.

16 Fenves, “Transmittal letter to Chancellor McRaven.”

17 Testimonial, UT Austin undergraduate, February 14, 2019.

18 Interview, UT Austin faculty, March 28, 2018.

19 Interview, UT Austin faculty, April 4, 2018; Interview, UT Austin faculty, April 24, 2018.

20 Interview, UT Austin faculty, April 27, 2018.

21 Interview, UT Austin faculty, April 24, 2018; see also Evan Smith, “A Conversation with Dan Patrick,” The Texas Tribune, June 4, 2015, https://youtu.be/tSvpgoXjoAo.

22 Sampo Ruoppila and Albion M. Butters, “Not a ‘Non-issue’: Perceptions and Realities of Campus Carry at The University of Texas at Austin,” Journal of American Studies 55, no. 2 (2021): 299–311.

23 Matthew Watkins, “Nobel Laureate Professor: I’m Banning Guns in My UT Classroom,” The Texas Tribune, January 25, 2016, https://www.texastribune.org/2016/01/25/nobel-laureate-professor-im-banning-guns-my-classr/.

24 Rachel Fernandez, “Graduate Student Reassigned After Syllabus Required Students with Concealed Weapons to Sit in a ‘Second Amendment Zone,’” The Daily Utah Chronicle, August 28, 2018, http://dailyutahchronicle.com/2018/08/26/graduate-assistant-removed-from-class-after-her-syllabus-required-students-with-concealed-weapons-to-sit-in-the-second-amendment-zone/.

25 Texas House of Representatives in 1997, 1999, 2009, 2013 (see https://house.texas.gov/); Texas Senate in 2009, 2011, 2013 (see https://senate.texas.gov/). See also Jeffrey A. Bouffard, Matt R. Nobles, William Wells and Michael R. Cavanaugh, “How Many More Guns?: Estimating the Effect of Allowing Licensed Concealed Handguns on a College Campus,” Journal of Interpersonal Violence 27, no. 2 (2012): 319.

26 Although the petition’s language was initially stronger, it was subsequently softened to get more faculty buy-in and signatures. Interview, UT Austin faculty, March 28, 2018.

27 On the activism of graduate students, see Gun Free UT, “1787 UT Graduate and Professional Students Oppose Guns in Classrooms,” December 1, 2015, http://gunfreeut.org/petitions/graduate-student-petition/.

28 Shaundra K. Lewis and Daniel Alejandro De Luna, “Symposium on ‘Texas Gun Law and the Future’: The Fatal Flaws in Texas’s Campus Carry Law,” Thurgood Marshall Law Review 41, no. 2 (2016): 139.

29 Gun Free UT, “Economics Professor Emeritus Daniel Hamermesh Withdraws From UT,” October 7, 2015, http://gunfreeut.org/economics-professor-emeritus-daniel-hamermesh-withdraws-from-ut/.

30 Matthew Watkins, “UT Architecture Dean Cites Campus Carry as a Reason for Departure,” The Texas Tribune, February 26, 2016, https://www.texastribune.org/2016/02/25/ut-architecture-dean-cites-campus-carry-reason-dep/.

31 Matthew Watkins, “Three UT Professors Sue to Block Campus Carry,” The Texas Tribune, July 6, 2016, https://www.texastribune.org/2016/07/06/3-ut-austin-professors-sue-state-over-campus-carry/.

32 Interview, UT Austin faculty, April 24, 2018.

33 Interview, UT Austin staff, April 16, 2018; Interview, UT Austin graduate student, April 25, 2018; Interview, UT Austin graduate, April 26, 2018.

34 Watkins, “Nobel Laureate Professor.”

35 Interview, UT Austin undergraduate, March 27, 2018.

36 Focus group (pro-Campus Carry), UT Austin undergraduates, April 19, 2018.

37 See also Patricia Somers and Nicholas Phelps, “Not Chilly Enough? Texas Campus Carry and Academic Freedom,” Journal of Academic Freedom 9 (2018): 1–15.

38 Interview, UT Austin undergraduate, April 4, 2018.

39 John R. P. French and Bertram Raven, “The Bases of Social Power,” in Studies in Social Power, ed. Dorwin P. Cartwright (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1959); Paul Schrodt, Paul L. Witt and Paul D. Turman, “Reconsidering the measurement of teacher power use in the college classroom,” Communication Education 56, no. 3 (2007): 308–332.

40 Focus group (pro-Campus Carry), UT Austin undergraduates, April 19, 2018.

41 Interview, UT Austin faculty, April 24, 2018.

42 Ibid.

43 William Rudy, The Campus and a Nation in Crisis: From the American Revolution to Vietnam (London and Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Presses, 1996), 206; Anthony Giddens, Beyond Left and Right: The Future of Radical Politics (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 1994), 19; see also John Dewey, “Self-Realization as the Moral Ideal,” Philosophical Review 2, no. 6 (1893): 660.

44 Focus group (pro-Campus Carry), UT Austin undergraduates, April 19, 2018.

45 Gun Free UT, “Press Release: Gun-Free UT Hosting Teach-in on Campus Carry,” January 20, 2016, http://gunfreeut.org/teach-in-press-release/.

46 Interview, UT Austin undergraduate, March 27, 2018.

47 Interview, UT Austin faculty, April 27, 2018.

48 Ibid.

49 Firmin DeBrabander, Do Guns Make Us Free? Democracy and the Armed Society (New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2015), 44. This reminds of a teaching from the Bodhicaryāvatāra, written by the Indian Buddhist monk Shāntideva in the 8th century, on the best way to protect oneself: although it is impossible to cover the entire earth with sheets of leather, a pair of shoes with good soles will suffice; similarly, while it is impossible to control everything that might happen in the world, by yoking the mind (i.e., overcoming self-clinging) one finds ultimate security. See Shāntideva, The Way of the Bodhisattva (Boston: Shambhala, 2006), 5.13–14.

50 According to Beth Titchiner, while violent epistemologies may be enacted on the basis of anxiety or fear, education has a vital role to play in shifting to non-violent ways of interacting with the world and each other; the example of meditation cited here would seem to fit with her suggestion of alternative pedagogical practices to achieve that. See Beth M. Titchiner, The Epistemology of Violence: Understanding the Root Causes of Violence in Schooling (Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), 82, 256.

51 On historical examples of how inner revolution can effect a transformation of martial worldviews (e.g., the Mongol civilization), see Robert Thurman, Inner Revolution: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Real Happiness (New York: Riverhead Books, 1999).

52 Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (New York: Vintage Books, 1977); Mark G. E. Kelly, The Political Philosophy of Michel Foucault (London, Routledge, 2009): 37–38.

53 French and Raven, “The Bases of Social Power.”

54 Schrodt et al., “Reconsidering the measurement of teacher power use in the college classroom”; 2007; Leslie F. Reid and Jalal Kawash, “Let’s talk about power: How teacher use of power shapes relationships and learning,” Papers on Postsecondary Learning and Teaching: Proceedings of the University of Calgary Conference on Learning and Teaching 2 (2017): 34–41.

55 Timothy Mottet, Ann B. Frymier and Steven A. Beebe, “Theorizing about instructional communication,” in Handbook of Instructional Communication: Rhetorical and Relational Perspectives, ed. Timothy P. Mottet, Virginia P. Richmond and James C. McCroskey (Boston: Pearson/Allyn & Bacon, 2006).

56 Carrie D. Kennedy-Lightsey and Scott A. Myers, “College Students’ Use of Behavioral Alteration Techniques as a Function of Aggressive Communication,” Communication Education 58, no. 1 (2009): 54–73. See also Tamara D. Golish, “Students’ use of compliance-gaining strategies with graduate teaching assistants: Examining the other end of the power spectrum,” Communication Quarterly 47, no. 1 (1999): 12–32.

57 Interview, St. Edward’s faculty, April 26, 2018; Interview, St. Edward’s faculty, April 27, 2018; Interview, UT Austin faculty, March 28, 2018.

58 Interview 1, UT Austin faculty, April 17, 2018.

59 See Jones and Horan, “Guns on campus,” 429. It should also be noted that, even though faculty may also legally carry on campus, for the purpose of discussion here the focus is on potentially armed students.

60 When Campus Carry is invoked as a form of legitimate power (see French and Raven), however, the antisocial classroom behavior can be on the part of the student, not the teacher; thus, it marks another type of inversion of the traditional power dynamic.

61 Foucault, Discipline and Punish, 201–2.

62 Focus group (anti-Campus Carry), UT Austin undergraduates, April 26, 2018.

63 Jeremy Bentham, The Panopticon Writings, ed. Miran Božovič (London and New York: Verso, 1995).

64 Michel Foucault, “The Eye of Power,” in Power/Knowledge, Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 1972–1977, ed. Colin Gordon (Brighton: Harvester, 1980), 147–65.

65 Joe Lewis, “The College Campus as Panopticon: How Security and Surveillance Are Undermining Free Inquiry,” in Policing the Campus: Academic Repression, Surveillance, and the Occupy Movement (New York: Peter Lang, 2013), 137. For an excellent overview, see Michael Gallagher, “Are Schools Panoptic?” Surveillance and Society 7, no. 3/4 (2010): 262–72.

66 Information Security Office, The University of Texas at Austin, https://security.utexas.edu/panopticon.

67 Bentham, The Panopticon Writings, 9.

68 Interview, UT Austin administrator, April 26, 2018.

69 Hosking, “Campus security director perceptions,” 59; Bartula and Brown, “University and College Officials’ Perceptions,” 12.

70 Inter alia, Interview, UT Austin faculty, April 23, 2018; Interview 2, UT Austin faculty, April 17, 2018.

71 Interview 2, UT Austin faculty, April 17, 2018.

72 Interview, UT Austin faculty, April 27, 2018.

73 Interview, St. Edward’s faculty, April 27, 2018. On this point, the professor clarified, “The people who are pushing for Campus Carry do not operate on academic campuses.”

74 For an overview of the battle over the idiom of the Ivory Tower, see Steven Shapin, “The Ivory Tower: the history of a figure of speech and its cultural uses,” The British Society for the History of Science 45, no. 1 (2012): 24–27.

75 Students for Concealed Carry, “Anti-Campus Carry Professors Take a Decidedly Unacademic Approach to Activism,” November 10, 2015, https://concealedcampus.org/2015/11/anti-campus-carry-professionals-take-a-decidedly-unacademic-approach-to-activism/.

76 Interview, St. Edward’s faculty, April 27, 2018.

77 Interview, UT Austin faculty, April 4, 2018.

78 Interview 1, UT Austin faculty, April 17, 2018.

79 Interview, UT Austin faculty, April 27, 2018.

80 Watkins, “Three UT professors sue to block campus carry.” On the question of Campus Carry as a threat to academic freedom, see Somers and Phelps, “Not Chilly Enough?”; Drew, “Making Sense of Campus Carry,” 90; Wolcott, “The Chilling Effect of Campus Carry,” 885–894; Minkah Makalani, “The Many Costs of Campus Carry,” The New Yorker, October 15, 2016, https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/the-intellectual-costs-of-campus-carry.

81 Interview, UT Austin faculty, April 24, 2018.

82 Interview, UT Austin faculty, March 28, 2018.

83 Foucault, Discipline and Punish, 27–28.

84 Somers and Phelps, “Not Chilly Enough?” 8.

85 See, e.g., Richard Hofstadter, Anti-intellectualism in American Life (New York: Vintage Books, 1963); Susan Jacoby, The Age of American Unreason (New York: Pantheon Books, 2008); Matthew Motta, “The Dynamics and Political Implications of Anti-Intellectualism in the United States,” American Politics Research 46, no. 3: 465–98.

86 Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Richelieu (London: Saunders and Otley, 1839).

87 For a historical overview of domestic spy programs in U.S. universities, see David Price, “Uninvited Guests: A Short History of the CIA on Campus,” in The CIA on Campus: Essays on Academic Freedom and the National Security State, ed. Philip Zwerling (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2011), 33 –60.

88 Forum, “A chilly climate on the campuses,” Chronicle of Higher Education, September 9, 2005, B7–13, cited in Henry A. Giroux, “Disabling the Future: Youth and the Politics of Disposability,” in Power, Pedagogy and Praxis: Social Justice in the Globalized Classroom, ed. Shannon A. Moore and Richard C. Mitchell (Rotterdam and Taipai: Sense Publishers, 2008), 64.

89 Since Campus Carry has been allowed on university campuses, it has resulted in zero shootings.

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References

Electronic reference

Albion M. Butters, Shifting Lines of Force: Campus Carry and Power at The University of Texas at AustinEuropean journal of American studies [Online], 18-2 | 2023, Online since 30 July 2023, connection on 20 April 2024. URL: http://journals.openedition.org/ejas/20186; DOI: https://doi.org/10.4000/ejas.20186

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About the author

Albion M. Butters

Albion M. Butters, PhD is a Research Fellow at the University of Turku, Finland, with an interest in competing ideologies and epistemologies. At the John Morton Center for North American Studies, he joined the Academy of Finland-funded project on Campus Carry at The University of Texas at Austin, and he co-edited Up in Arms: Gun Imaginaries in Texas (Brill 2022). He is also the co-editor of two special journal issues in American Studies, Popularizing Politics: The 2016 Presidential Election (EJAS, 2017) and At the Breaking Point: Media and Politics in the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election (WiderScreen, 2022).

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