On the same day that we learned recall elections did not give Democrats control over the Wisconsin state Senate, professors were informed that the recently passed concealed weapons law allows individuals to bring a “gun, electric weapon (e.g., taser), billyclub, and a knife other than a switchblade” onto college campuses.
No, I am not making this up. On July 8, 2011 Governor Walker signed WI Act 35 into law, which allows concealed weapons in most public spaces: Excluded are police stations, prisons, courthouses and schools. Although the University of Wisconsin system requested that college campuses to be included in the list of gun-free zones, the (Republican-controlled) legislature "declined" to insert this provision. The university can, however, post signage at the entrance to buildings declaring guns prohibited.
In an email from the University system faculty are advised that although we can “notify” students in our syllabi that guns are prohibited in our classes if we are teaching in a building where a sign is posted, we don't have the legal right, as individual instructors, to demand this.
Really? Is this what we've come to in our state?
Undoubtedly I will get numerous comments explaining why I’m actually safer now that it’s legal for me, as an instructor, to carry a gun.
I’m not particularly interested in entering into debates with those think that campuses are appropriate places for deadly weapons.
I am, however, interested in how we, as faculty, respond to continued attacks on our workplace, rights, and safety.
Let’s go back to the results of the recent recall elections. Although many news media called the results of the recall elections a “failure” for Democrats, they were not. Previous to this week’s election, only two legislators have ever been recalled in Wisconsin history: that number has just doubled. The results of the recall election show the importance of organizing and working together.
Although some doubt that momentum will carry over to the recall of Governor Walker, I say, just watch us.
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