In May of 2015, the Texas House of Representatives voted 98-47 in favor of a bill that would allow Texas' concealed-carry license holders to carry weapons onto state and private university campuses, which Texas' governor Greg Abbott quickly signed into law.
Set to take effect in the fall of 2016, the new mandate has obligated university presidents to a series of tasks related to implementing the measure. For example, public opinion regarding the limited placement of "gun-free zones" must be sought and considered. Proper signage referencing the Texas penal code must also be purchased and installed throughout the campus in an effort to keep citizens informed of the law.
Early during the July broadcast of The President's Perspective, A&M-Commerce president Dr. Dan Jones introduces the subject of "campus carry," explaining how the new law can and will likely affect his university. Detective Sergeant Kyle Lowe of the Texas A&M University-Commerce Police Department joins Jones to report on the many ways in which the police continue to be involved in gun-related safety on campus, including plans for a public awareness training course that would serve to inform the general public of the manner in which the new law applies to them.
Later on the program: On a Sunday afternoon in late May, thirty-three college students and one Dr. LaVelle Hendricks of Texas A&M University-Commerce boarded a charter bus bound for Birminghim, Alabama - a city that has played host to some of the most significant events in American civil rights history.
The week long journey would take the group through Selma and on to Montgomery before the week was out.
Students visited Rickwood Field, the 16th Street Baptist Church, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Miles College, the Edmund Pettus bridge, the home of Coretta Scott King, The Rosa Parks museum, Lincoln School in Marion, AL, and other sites that played roles in the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
Now in its fourth year and a fully-accredited college course credit, the trip is made possible by East Texas State University alumni Frank and Rosalie Turner. The couple are longtime donors to Texas A&M University-Commerce, and have a passion for connecting young people with this vital American history.
An accomplished author, Rosalie Turner penned her fifth book, a novel, "March with Me," that tells the story of race relations in 1960s Birmingham. Turner's research for the book connected her with myriad "foot soldiers," people throughout Alabama who played first-hand roles in protests, marches, and other events of the time. Many of those people now play a role in this week long learning experience for university students at Turner's request.
A&M-Commerce president Dr. Dan Jones hears from students who attended the trip this year, and from Dr. LaVelle Hendricks, who serves as faculty, chaperone, mentor, leader, spiritual advisor, and many other roles in the planning and execution of this endeavor.
The President's Perspective is a monthly half-hour chat with the president and CEO of Texas A&M University-Commerce, Dr. Dan Jones. The program is produced in the studios at Binnion Hall on the university campus.