UW Faculty: Concealed Carry “Threatens” Education

Prof. Holly Hassel, Credit: Facebook
Prof. Holly Hassel, Credit: Facebook

Late Monday afternoon, the body that represents University of Wisconsin faculty and staff in the governance of the school sent state lawmakers a resolution formally opposing concealed carry at UW campuses. Holly Hassel, a gender, sexuality and women’s studies professor from UW-Marathon County, e-mailed lawmakers and Gov. Scott Walker’s office to say that the UW Colleges Senate Steering Committee had voted to approve a resolution condemning concealed carry on campuses because it “threatens the progress of education.”

Hassel is the chair of the steering committee, which is described on the UW’s website as, “the main governance body of the UW Colleges” and “is responsible for personnel matters, including tenure and promotion procedures, and all curricular matters, including the Associate of Arts and Science Degree.”

A proposal to require UW campuses to allow students, faculty and visitors to carry a concealed weapon if they possess a state license and wish to do so sparked opposition from the body. Earlier this month, UW System President Ray Cross spoke out against the proposal saying the school had “significant concerns” about the concept.

The resolution passed by the UW Colleges Senate Steering Committee spares no alarm. “[A]llowing concealed carry permit holders to bring firearms on university grounds, buildings, or into classrooms threatens the progress of education and the expression of ideas and makes the university less safe,” the body declared.

The document goes on to proclaim that, “[A]ll students, faculty, and staff at the UW Colleges have the right to learn and work in a safe environment free from concealed firearms.” Just where the right to a concealed carry-free existence comes from – and just what happened to the rights of lawfully licensed concealed carry permit holders, is left unexplained by the collection of academic minds and college staff.

Justifying their authority to announce their opposition to the legislation, the academics claim that “the faculty and staff at the UW Colleges is responsible for being a voice for students, faculty, and staff on issues relating to campus safety and general well being.” Nowhere does the resolution acknowledge that lawmakers are the duly elected representatives of the people of Wisconsin tasked with being a voice for those they represent.

Unlike lawmakers, faculty and staff at UW system colleges are not elected to their position.

For her part, Hassel is no newcomer to hot-button political issues. In 2011, she signed the petition to force a recall election against Gov. Scott Walker.

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According to her website, Hassel teaches women’s studies and English courses at UW-Marathon County. Additionally, she has co-authored a women’s and gender studies textbook that the publisher claims, “illustrates four of the most critical concepts in women’s and gender studies: the social construction of gender; privilege and oppression; intersectionality; and feminist praxis, and grounds these concepts in multiple illustrations.”

Presently, Hassel is leading and working on a collaborative project entitled, “Surviving Sexism in Academia: Strategies for Feminist Leadership” which promises to be “a way to build networks” and serve “as a guide for feminist academics across disciplines.” The work complains that the presence of women in positions of leadership on campus has resulted, “in a dismissal of the need to attend to or even acknowledge sexism whether overt, covert, or through microaggressions.” Evidence of this problem, Hassel and her team claim, can be found through news reports that show “sexism, misogyny, and patriarchal assumptions pervade academia.”

Some of the key questions Hassel says the collaborative will consider are:

What does sexism in the academy look like?

How best do we address sexism in the academy?

What is the role of survival strategies such as male-identification and co-optation (in which women who advance to leadership roles in the field sometimes adapt by physically altering their bodies or conduct?

More information about the project is available on the collaborative’s website. The full text of the UW staff resolution opposing concealed carry on UW campuses is below.

RESOLUTION on CONCEALED CARRY IN CAMPUS BUILDINGS

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A STATEMENT BY FACULTY AND STAFF AT THE UW COLLEGES IN OPPOSITION TO THE PROPOSED CONCEALED CARRY OF FIREARMS BILL ON CAMPUS

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WHEREAS, the current proposed legislation (LRB-2653/1) in the Wisconsin Legislature would 1) exempt any college or university in the UW System and any technical college from the law that allows a university or college to prohibit a person from carrying a firearm in any building on its grounds if the person holds a license to carry a concealed weapon; 2) Repeal the provision in the administrative code in which the UW System generally prohibits persons from carrying, possessing, or using any dangerous weapon on university property or in university buildings or facilities, and

WHEREAS, allowing concealed carry permit holders to bring firearms on university grounds, buildings, or into classrooms threatens the progress of education and the expression of ideas and makes the university less safe, and

WHEREAS, law enforcement professionals believe that prohibiting firearms on college campuses, except by campus police and trained security officers, is an essential element of those schools’ safety plans, and

WHEREAS, the faculty and staff at the UW Colleges is responsible for being a voice for students, faculty, and staff on issues relating to campus safety and general well being, and

WHEREAS, all students, faculty, and staff at the UW Colleges have the right to learn and work in a safe environment free from concealed firearms,

THEREFORE, be it resolved that the faculty  and staff of the UW Colleges strongly oppose any bill put forth by the State of Wisconsin that could prohibit universities from banning the carrying of firearms by non-law enforcement officials in any building on our campus, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the faculty and staff at the UW Colleges strongly encourages legislators to give high priority to campus safety, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the faculty and staff at the UW Colleges urge legislators to vote against any such legislation.

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