Yesterday, February 5, 2015, was an important day for higher education in the state of Arkansas. The House Education Committee held a lengthy discussion of HB 1077, the bill sponsored by Representative Charlie Collins that would allow properly licensed faculty and staff to carry concealed weapons on our public campuses.
The final roll call split along party lines, 10-10, and Representative Cozart, Chair of the Committee, cast the deciding vote against the bill.
After the committee finished its discussion, fifteen members of the general public offered their own opinions: eleven spoke against the bill, and four supported it. UA-LR Chancellor Joel Anderson ended the public testimony with a clear-headed and articulate analysis of the weaknesses both of the bill and the ideas behind the bill.
The majority of those who spoke against the bill were Arkansas students, and they acquitted themselves extremely well. They spoke with clear knowledge of the legislation and pride in the institutions they either represented or aspired to attend.
I was proud of each and every one of them.
This was not an easy vote for our representatives, but having listened closely to the debate and discussion, I am convinced that all of them are deeply concerned for the safety of our campuses. Finally, however, the decision allows our various Boards of Trustees to continue the work they were originally commissioned to do—advise, govern, and direct our institutions of higher learning in the state of Arkansas.
I am happy with yesterday's outcome, and I have written those who voted against this bill to tell them how much I appreciate their strong stand in support of educational self-governance, a core value that we sacrifice at great peril.
If you would like to write them as well, you will find their email addresses linked to their names below.