Campus- carry went into effect on August 1 throughout Texas. Students who have a concealed handgun license will be allowed to carry firearms on campus including classrooms and residence halls.
The locations where guns are not allowed are called Prohibited Concealed Carry Locations, PCCLs. The areas include athletic stadiums, any UIL events help in campus buildings, counseling centers, certain service centers, the University Police building, and disciplinary or grievance hearings. A full list of all the PCCLs can be found on the following chart.
SHSU put together a committee of staff, faculty, and students last September to discuss and write the implementation policy. The policy that this committee submitted was approved in May and the university spent the summer preparing for implementation.
“Over the summer we finalized that whole plan,” Director of Emergency Preparedness and Safety, David Yebra said. “The first of August we were set and ready, and we implemented the policy. We are now in the phase that the policy is in effect.”
In order to prepare for implementation of the policy there was website made for information, training videos launched, a message by University President Dana Hoyt was recorded and put on the website and signs at the PCCL areas were put up.
“We have had a chance to look at what all the universities across Texas have done and we are very consistent with what everybody has done,” Yebra said. “We don’t stand out in any way.”
According to Yebra, the committee really helped with the deliberate approach they have taken on the policy.
“We have great leaders involved, from Dr. Phillip Lyons, Dean of the College of Criminal Justice to Kevin Morris, the police chief at the UPD, Dr. Drew Miller, and faculty representation Dr. Lisa Shen Students,” Yebra said. “These people were a part of the committees that added just wonderful perspectives from every angle. This has contributed to the understanding to what we are doing as well they are advocates, as they are out there provided points of clarification. Not one person is over flowing with questions. Different people throughout the university can answer questions.”
To prepare the community for the policy and get their opinion the committee held town hall meetings to discuss the policy.
The main sources where students and parents can get information on campus carry are through http://www.shsu.edu/katsafe/campus-carry/ and to download SHSU Guidebook and put KatSafe on there.
“I am not sure we left anything out for people knowing or having access to information about,” Yebra said. “We have added a guidebook which is KatSafe. There we have what to do during a hurricane, what to do in the case of an active shooter, what to do during the act of assault. All steps, phone numbers and reference materials are all there. Also once you are there you can easily link over to our Kat Safe concealed on campus website.”
On the Concealed Carry website there is a one-page summary, message from the University President, the list of the PCCLs, and the SHSU version of the implementation policy. The KatSafe app shows emergency preparedness information which includes KatSafe YouTube videos.
“You can see conceal carry on campus, safety evacuation, what to do on weather, what is KatSafe,” Yebra said. “It is very assessable. This is something you can do on your phone. All of you have to do is go to KatSafe site or the app.”
Student Government Association President Jacqueline Bolden said students have many ways to access information from the website to the YouTube videos.
“Sam Houston State University has used a variety of resources to ensure the campus-carry policy is both efficient and effective for all students,” Bolden said. “The student body is appreciative for the steps the university has taken to protect the rights and safety of all SHSU Bearkats.”
For events that people want to request the area a PCCL there is also a special event check list on the website to see if they are meeting the criteria that is laid down in the policy.
“Whatever is already covered in our policy does not need a request,” Yebra said. “It would be something unique, a major event that raises a number of concern. We have already taken care a lot of the thoughts. If somebody has an idea then we will entertain it.”
To see the PCCL that already exist on campus go to KatSafe and click on the tab that says Prohibited Locations, and you go to PCCLs.
“There is even the imagery of where the signs are at,” Yebra said. “Athletic, UIL facilities, when the colosseum is complete, the health and counseling centers, UPD.”
The videos that are on the website are meant to be short and drama free. The committee worked with SHSU Online to make each video concise.
“We specifically designed these videos to be short, not sit here for 20 mins,” Yebra said. “Tell me what I need to do, without all the drama. At that moment in time you want to know what you need to do, you are not concerned about all the decision making going on at a much higher level. You are just worried about your safety and what you are supposed to do. So we designed the information for that.”
The main suggestions for action in case of an active shooter are run, hide, or fight. This concept is explained through the videos and website information.
According to Yebra they planned on making the message as calm as possible. They do not want to cause panic and that thought was important during the design of the information materials.
“This idea that we need these mega huge exercise is a no.” Yebra said. “We are worried about you and your personal safety and security. I don’t need to see the image of anyone running down the hallway, I got that. I just want to show what to do.”
Questions that UPD and the committee get frequently are not ones that they can answer.
“That is important for people to know, the policy is not intended to cover everything about hand-gun law,” Yebra said. “It covers concealed carry on campus. There is an entire licensing law that talks about the requirements, how you could possibly loose your license, storage and use of force are laid out in detail.”
There is a requirement to report the policy every two years to the Texas State University system for review, so the process is not fully finished.
“We track and monitor the thoughts and concerns about the implementations of the policy,” Yebra said. “It is not like we are saying, ‘Ok, now it is over.’ No, it is a continuing engagement with people where we share and listen to ideas, and mature the policy a little bit.”
The UPD and the committee has prepared for this change in the most convenient way they could think of for students and parents.
“Bad things happen all the time across the country, but we want to at the greatest extent offer information everything you need to know right here on your phone,” Yebra said. “You can look and then feel safe and secure. That is what we want to promote. I would say no one rivals us in putting out as much information so that everyone can be as informed as they can be.”
According to UPD Police Chief Kevin Morris the university reaction has been very cooperative.
“The university community has been very understanding,” Morris said. “Some may not be happy with the law as it was passed, but the law is here and has been implemented.”
The school year has only just begun and according to Morris they have not had any issues with the implementation.
In addition to all the resources provided to students, The Student Government Associations is planning an informational meeting that will cover both the campus carry policies and what to do in the case of an active shooter.