On Thursday, March 3, 2011, President James D. Spaniolo sent a letter to the “Students, Faculty, and Staff” of the University of Texas – Arlington (UTA). Some are criticizing the letter as an inappropriate use of state property to influence pending legislation. But it is far worse than that. It is an ideologically-driven missive that could get some “Students, Faculty, and Staff” at UTA seriously injured or killed.
The letter begins innocently enough with Spaniolo simply noting that “The Texas Legislature is currently considering several bills that (he knows) many of you are following with great interest and an increasing level of concern and alarm—legislation that could allow concealed handguns on college campuses across Texas.”
By the beginning of the second paragraph, Spaniolo, who does not have a PhD (or, apparently, any record of scholarly research whatsoever) states his opinion on the legislation: “I have followed very closely the disparate views that have been expressed on this issue, and I am keenly aware of and sensitive to the arguments in favor of this legislation. But I have concluded that allowing concealed handguns on campus would not make UT Arlington—or any college campus—a safer place.”
It is unsurprising that Spaniolo comes down on the wrong side of this issue with an opinion that is not informed by scholarship. The president of the university has only five publications (this century) listed on his resume. They are all non-scholarly city newspaper opinion pieces with titles like “U.S., Cuba Must Start Anew.”
Yet without any visible expertise in this important and well-researched area he says the following: “As president of UT Arlington, my top priority must always be to do everything possible to ensure the safety and security of our students, faculty, staff, and visitors. I firmly believe—as does virtually everyone in leadership positions at colleges and universities and in law enforcement—that allowing concealed handguns on campus would significantly increase the potential for members of our community to be injured or killed.”
This last paragraph suffers from two severe deficiencies: