Texas Governor Greg Abbott, in an effort to expand gun rights in Texas, signed a bill last June that will allow the carrying of concealed handguns on college campuses.
On May 29, the Texas legislature passed a law to allow the open carry of handguns. Texas was one of six states with a ban on open carry.
Soon afterwards, the legislature also passed concealed carry on public college campuses.
The House voted 98-47 on the issue. Then the bill was sent to Gov. Abbott, which he signed at Red’s Indoor Range in Pflugerville, TX on June 15th
Allowing concealed handguns on our college campus will not make us safer. The purported benefits of allowing weapons are outweighed by the potential dangers and complications it introduces.
The primary argument from gun activists is that adding more armed students and staff will make campuses safer and ward off would-be shooters.
Texas has more than 850,000 concealed handgun license (or CHL) holders. But CHL holders must be at least 21; therefore most college students would be too young to carry.
Former Navy Admiral William McRaven is more than familiar with weapons, as he directed the Navy Seals’ takedown of Osama bin Laden, and he opposes campus carry. He is now the UT System Chancellor, overseeing the nine UT schools. He states mental health professionals worry adding guns to the preexisting emotional and psychological stress on students will lead to more suicides and accidental shootings.
“The presence of concealed weapons will make a campus a less safe environment,” McRaven said.
In fact, the majority of universities and college staff oppose campus carry.
“You won’t find a lot of faculty that are supportive of it,” Midland College professor Sondra Richards said. “We deal with young people everyday, so it concerns us. Students get a lot of emotional, psychological and just real school-based stress.”
Dr. Richards says most of the students will handle the stress just fine. But now, bringing concealed guns on campus adds elements of unnecessary crisis management for the staff. They now must have a heightened sense of worry for the students who concerned them anyway.
For many years, the House has tried to pass concealed carry on campuses. The public universities in Texas and their advocates, such as McRaven, strongly voiced their opposition to the proposed law.
Midland College Chief of Police Richard McKee said: “The larger universities tried to explain to the legislature that a college is not a place to be carrying weapons and doing so was of no benefit, but obviously it didn’t sway their opinion.”
Despite the strong opposition, the Legislature didn’t listen. Instead, the well-paid lobbyists employed by the strong gun rights presence in Texas instead swayed them otherwise.
“It’s such an interesting political thing to me that the people who are teaching and actually running the colleges were saying we don’t want this and they’re going to pass it anyway,” Dr. Richards said.
When it became clear that this law had a strong chance of passing in this last legislative session, advocates of its opposition pushed for the option for schools to opt out. At first, this provision looked like it would pass. According to Dr. Richards, this was denied once they realized practically all of the schools would opt out.
The new campus carry law goes into effect for public four-year schools in August of 2016, and for community colleges (such as Midland College) in August of 2017.
The new open carry law goes into effect in Texas in January of next year. It allows anyone with a concealed handgun license to openly carry that firearm in areas where they were already allowed to carry concealed.
“Campus carry is a completely different law,” Chief McKee said. “It allows concealed handgun holders to carry firearms on campus, provided they are concealed. So there is no open carry provision on campuses.”
The campus carry law allows college presidents to carve out “gun-free zones” on their campus.
“A sign would have to be prominently posted that this is a gun-free zone,” Chief McKee said.
However, the Texas Legislature made it very clear that college presidents are not allowed to simply blanket their entire campus in gun-free zones, and thus circumvent the new law. The fact that this had to be explicitly prohibited shows the Legislature’s awareness of the disapproval of campus carry and it’s subsequent disregard of it.
MC’s implementation of gun-free zones will be directly influenced from the fact that MC has both a childcare center and Early College High School on campus.
The Allison Fine Arts building is the main location of Early College classrooms, so that building would be a gun-free zone but also potentially anywhere else Early College students go. The problem is they could potentially go anywhere on the campus at any given time.
Dr. Richards and Chief McKee both said that MC will have to take note of how other colleges will handle their designation of gun-free zones:
“A lot of community colleges have Early College High Schools so I guess we’ll figure it out together,” Dr. Richards said.
“We’re waiting to see what kind of feedback other colleges that have early college high schools on their campuses get from the legislature,” Chief McKee said.
The implementation of campus carry law brings with it many complications, but we strongly urge the MC Board of Trustees to create lots of “gun-free” zones, even if they have to push limits of the law.
By Evan Simon
MCP Press Reporter
Sometimes in life it can be difficult to find a place to call home. It might be hard to find friends in general or maybe just friends with a particular common interest.
This is where clubs can come handy, and Midland College is a field with a diverse number of clubs each catering to a particular group.
If students like gaming, they can join TOGA, short for the Totally Original Gaming Association. TOGA is a group of people who get together every Friday night from six to midnight to play all sorts of games, from video games to classic board games.
Jared Jones said he wasn’t having much fun until he joined TOGA after his second semester. “I just got in and we may seem closed off but we are actually really open to everybody,” Jones said.
Henry Hoang of the group added that clubs are good way of relieving stress by being in a fun and relaxing environment with people one knows.
“Clubs are best because we get people out of their comfort zone,” Hoang said. “People who play video games may not seem to be as out-going so we get them in groups.”
“[Clubs] are a good outfit for something to do on Fridays,” Devin Johns said.
Johns added that clubs serve as a way to “get out of all the stress and craziness of school to just chill out and have some fun with some friends.”
Johns said the TOGA club is a good way to find new games students might like that they never heard of before.
Johns said that someone could say: “Hey I never tried say, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, but man that looks crazy, sick, insane and cool. Or I’m going to try Terraria and probably get my butt handed to me.”
The TOGA club was able to build a Five Nights at Freddy’s themed haunted house because of all the different talents the members of the club had.
But maybe not all students are looking for a place to play video games. Maybe they are looking for a group of people to help grow their faith.
MC has several religious groups on campus. One of them is the Catholic Student Association of Midland, where students can get together and have fellowship with each other.
Father Francis Oryekozura said that it’s a place where students can “do a lot of fun things like play sand volley ball and other games.”
Father Oryekozura said the organization offers a safe place for students of students of faith to get together in a secular world. And Oryekozuraq was very adamant that one did not even need to be Catholic to join the group.
There are several academic groups around campus as well, one of which is the schools engineering club. Jeremy Lusk of the group said, “It’s a great place for people who are interested in engineering to get together.”
In the engineering club students will be able to do homework together but also just hang out.
There are other clubs around the campus and no matter what someone is interested in, there should be a club for them.
If not, students can organize a a specialty-interest club through Student Activities. Organizers only need a teacher or staff member as an adviser.
Examples of other clubs are Student Publications, the Baptist Student Union, the Anime Club and the English Honor Society.
By Coy Millsap
MCP Staff Reporter
The green zone program is for the veterans of Midland College.
This program was created to help veterans in every aspect of college life, and to help these individuals speak freely without scaring or intimidating others.
Most veterans are very colorful with their vocabulary, according to Dean of Sociology and Behavioral Sciences & Business Damon Kennedy said.
Most people do not understand veterans’ pasts and what they are talking about, he said.
“The purpose of the program is to bring some of the experiences of our veterans to folks that have had no military experience or affiliation,” Kennedy said.
Dangerous situations that could happen include extreme stress and emotional outbursts.
There are more than 300 veterans attending MC this year. This is why it is important to let veterans know that this program exists, Kennedy said.
There are staff members and faculty who have been trained or have been in the military, and do understand to a certain extent, most of the problems that might occur.
Some veterans have experienced the worst humanity can offer.
The greenzones stickers point veterans to knowledgeable advisers.
Some can be very tense and others can be relatively goofy or weird, depending on a person’s perspective, Kennedy said.
Their personalities and actions are used as coping mechanisms.
There are people in this college who do care this is a vet-friendly college, according to Kennedy.
By Coy Millsap
MCP Staff Reporter
Online shopping and social media are just a couple of ways that people could put themselves in harm’s way. By putting personal information on the Internet, people take the risk of having their identity stolen.
There are many ways a hacker can obtain one’s identity. There are simple techniques. The Internet is not the only way that hackers can get access to personal information. They can use ATM machines, security cameras and other means. There are still traditional ways, which include stealing wallets and addressed mail.
Most people have identification cards, credit cards and sometimes Social Security cards, but today things are changing. More people are purchasing items online and do not use proper procedures when using credit cards on the Internet. “If it’s on the Internet, it can be hacked,” Midland College Vice President of Technology and Facilities Dennis Sever said.
Often, hackers will use a false website. The website will look almost identical to a legit site. For example the IRS website is often mimicked. All federal agencies will not ask for personal information as in Social Security numbers, and bank account numbers, but fake websites will.
If you get a phone call from a person claiming to be from the sheriff’s office or other official offices, seeking personal information, this is also false. You should hang up immediately and inform the authorities. “If somebody asks you a question and you do not know who they are, do not answer. It is that simple,” Sever said. “Another way that people can get information is an email scam. Emails often times claim that the person receiving the email has won a prize and ask for bank account information. These types of scams should also be reported to the authorities. “Watch how you talk to. Don’t open unknown emails. Don’t give secure information. Know who you’re talking to, and be careful.”
The misinformed and the elderly often times fall victim to email scams. Education and awareness is the best weapon to use when protecting one’s identity at home and abroad.
Be aware of malicious malware, unknown email addresses and false websites. Identity theft is one of the largest and fastest-growing crimes in the world.
Social media websites can be dangerous. “People share information on Facebook, as in ‘we’re going out of town or at a baseball game,’” Sever said. “Certain individuals know that the person is out of town or the house is empty.
One way can be more careful with their identity is by creating more complicated passwords. “People make passwords too easy,” Sever said. “You have 46 different characters you can use to secure your password. Use a 15 character password instead of a four character password.” should also be creative when making a password. “Do not put your first name, your kid’s name, or your pet’s name and so on and so forth.”
“As technology gets better, the threat grows and the problem gets worse,” Sever said.
Midland College Press reporters Coy Millsap, Dustin Gordon, Matthew Esquivel and Travis Vice have entered their short film, Bitter Creek, into the Permian Basin Horror Fest. The top five most liked videos will be screened and judged at the festival.
Grammy nominated Benjamin Zander gave visual representations of “The Art of Possibility” on stage at Midland College in early February.
Zander, who is the conductor of The Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, came to MC with the Cassatt Quartet and provided an evening of insight and entertainment.
Zander was interactive with the audience; before he started, he insisted that the first row of seats in the auditorium were filled. Zander requested that people sitting in the back row moved closer.
“People sit in the back because they’re afraid and want to hide,” Zander said.
Zander’s lecture, titled “The Art of Possibility” is based on the collaborative book written by him and Rosamund Stone Zander. At the beginning of the lecture Zander had set up two easels on the stage; each of the easels had a large pad of paper on them. On one he drew his representation of “the downward spiral,” and on the other he drew a visual representation of “possibility” or positive outlook.
According to Zander, there is never just one way to go about something— there are always multiple options. Zander refers to the exploration of these options as “The Art of Possibility.”
Throughout the evening, Zander joked around and interacted with the audience. At one point of the show he asked if anyone had a birthday coming up; a man whose birthday was the following day raised his hand and Zander brought him to the front. Zander then instructed the audience to sing him Happy Birthday. The auditorium was filled with the sound of one of the most well-known songs in the world.
“That was great but we could do it even better,” Zander said. He then instructed the audience to put emphasis on different words and add in various hand movements while singing. “Now, after tonight, you’ll never be able to sing Happy Birthday the same,” Zander joked. “You’ll think back to this night and make a decision about how you will sing.”
Zander then took the stage and sat down at the piano. He demonstrated the way that a child learning to play the piano plays throughout the years. He started off enthusiastically, putting an emphasis on every other note, then played less and less enthusiastically until the child quit piano lessons at age eleven.
This demonstration was to give the audience a humorous example of the various ways that a single song could be played on the piano. He then played a few other pieces and put impulses on various keys while playing to elaborate on the various ways a single song can be played.
According to Zander, “It’s one of the characteristics of a leader that he not doubt for one moment the capacity of the people he’s leading to realize whatever he’s dreaming.” Zander asked the audience to imagine if Martin Luther King had said “I have a dream. Of course, I’m not sure they’ll be up to it.”
The Cassatt Quartet took the stage and performed towards the end of the evening. First the quartet performed a piece on their own and then Zander joined to instruct them on how they could play their piece differently.
Zander then gave them insight on what notes to put emphasis on and when to stand while playing. And although the quartet was playing the same song as before, the various emphasis’ that they put into made it sound completely different than when they played it the first time.
The last story Zander told was one he heard from a woman who survived the Holocaust.
He said the woman and her brother were separated from their parents at a very young age when they were sent to Auschwitz.
Zander recalled the girl’s words: “‘We were in the train going to Auschwitz, and I looked down and saw my brother’s shoes were missing.’ And I said, ‘Why are you so stupid, can’t you keep your things together for goodness’ sake?’”
Zander said that this was the last thing she ever said to her brother. According to Zander, the woman told him, “I walked out of Auschwitz into life and I made a vow. And the vow was, I will never say anything that couldn’t stand as the last thing I ever say.”
Zander ended with saying that it would be difficult for us to live that way “but it is a possibility.”