AAUP issue statement against campus carry

And about time—

November 12, 2015


AAUP Joint Statement Opposing “Campus Carry” Laws
The horrific shootings at Umpqua Community College in Oregon and subsequent incidents of gun violence elsewhere have prompted renewed efforts to keep our colleges and universities both safe and open. One measure increasingly proposed is legislation—already approved in eight states—that would allow any licensed gun owner to carry concealed weapons on campus. Advocates of such so-called “campus carry” legislation contend that the presence of weapons in classrooms and other campus facilities will deter those seeking to wreak violence. Oregon is one state where “campus carry” is legal, but that did not prevent the tragedy.
Colleges and universities closely control firearms and prohibit concealed guns on their campuses because they regard the presence of weapons as incompatible with their educational missions. College campuses are marketplaces of ideas, and a rigorous academic exchange of ideas may be chilled by the presence of weapons. Students and faculty members will not be comfortable discussing controversial subjects if they think there might be a gun in the room.
William McRaven, chancellor for the University of Texas system and a former member of the Navy SEALs who rose to the rank of admiral, opposed passage of “campus carry” legislation in his state. “I feel the presence of concealed weapons will make a campus a less-safe environment,” he said. “If you have guns on campus, I question whether or not that will somehow inhibit our freedom of speech. If you’re in a heated debate with somebody in the middle of a classroom and you don’t know whether or not that individual is carrying, how does that inhibit the interaction between students and faculty?”
The undersigned organizations strongly support efforts to make college campuses as safe and weapon-free as possible for students, faculty, staff, parents, and community members. We therefore oppose efforts to enact “campus carry” laws and call for their repeal where they already exist. We encourage colleges and universities to embrace critical incident planning that includes faculty and staff and to advise all faculty and staff of these plans. We further call on these institutions to rely on trained and equipped professional law-enforcement personnel to respond to emergency incidents. State legislative bodies must refrain from interfering with decisions that are properly the responsibility of the academic community.
American Association of University Professors
American Federation of Teachers
Association of American Colleges and Universities
Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges

Apple Giving Design a Bad Name?

Oh yes, it’s time for those old HCI stalwarts Don Norman and Bruce Tognazzini to talk tough about Apple. Try this:

“Apple is destroying design. Worse, it is revitalizing the old belief that design is only about making things look pretty.”

And it gets tougher from there. Sort of hard to disagree if you have any education in human factors or user-centered design (that is, you actually studied it rather than just deciding to label yourself a UX expert because you were handy with a few tools). Read more HERE

Who defines reasonable in the gun debate?

In case it’s news to anyone, the University of Texas at Austin will allow concealed carry of guns by licensed owners next year. I won’t go into the pros and cons, the intractability of opposing views on the matter or the sense of wonder at how a political party espousing limited government could force this legislation through against the apparent will of the majority, but I am somewhat bewildered by terms of the law. Apparently the university cannot prohibit concealed weapons in classrooms but can enact reasonable restrictions. The question then becomes, who gets to define ‘reasonable’?

You might think that as experts in the campus learning environment, the dynamics of meaningful instruction, and the importance of free exploration and exchange of ideas, faculty on campus have special awareness of how guns in classrooms might impact the student and teacher experience. Gathering their input and attending to it would seem more reasonable than not. You likely will not be surprised to learn that the majority of faculty do not want guns in their classrooms, and their qualms about this might be based on experience of what it takes to provide a successful learning experience, as well as their personal safety concerns. Both positions seem to me to be reasonable. Interestingly, their position seems align with the positions of other experts on the role of guns on a campus, such as those of the university police, and our own very experienced-in-matters of combat, Chancellor. In this light, restricting the carrying of guns in classroom settings would seem reasonable. One might extend this further to restrict guns where conflict and disagreement are common (certain dealings with advisors, deans, faculty offices when students receive low grades) etc. but for now, let’s just stick with classrooms, after all, the advisor or faculty member would be free to pack their own gun for one-on-one defense there if necessary (yes, we’re still trying to stay ‘reasonable’ here).

Unfortunately, it seems even a common-sense approach to ‘reasonable’ restrictions is being denied to us all. Either through fear of legislative retribution, or fear of hot-headed types with guns coming to make their point, we are strolling down the road to armed students in a university that claims to be world-class. In what world is this conceivably ‘reasonable’?

Texas Standard Interview live

I gave a short interview to NPR-KUT’s Teh Texas Standard last week which was broadcast yesterday

PPR talks now online

I greatly enjoyed this year’s Patient Privacy Rights Summit in DC. I usually do not get to attend the same conferences as physicians, policymakers, lawyers etc but this annual summit brings them all together, along with varied invited speakers, to discuss the emerging health information infrastructure. The organizers asked me to provide a closing address and while we had some technical set up difficulties, you can find it here. We need more people to speak up and agitate for our rights in the coming information world, and health is one area where we can all recognize the importance of privacy.

while here, check out the opening address from Deanna Fei, who provide an account of being on the wrong end of health privacy concerns that might shock you.

Seeing accreditation from other sides

I remember when studying perception in undergrad psychology that the term ‘cue aware’ started to fall into our vocabulary to reflect the experience we have of increased experience of phenomena once we knew of their existence. I feel this way about accreditation. Every book or article I find myself reading now seems to have some example of accreditation within. Up first, a couple of articles in the latest issue of Law Library Journal, where James Milles, professor at SUNY Buffalo states in his title that ‘law libraries are doomed’ This is followed by a rejoinder by Kenneth Hirsh, professor at Cincinnati, suggesting it might not be quite that bad. In both, there is much discussion of law school accreditation and how it basically does little to protect the old library function that some argue is central to the great law school experience. Perhaps most telling from some perspectives, the new standards on ABA accreditation no longer require that a law library director have both a law and LIS degree, this now being softened to ‘should’ with numerous cases cited of where even this urging is ignored.

The general arguments about law education are familiar to folks who follow LIS literature — the disconnect between the faculty and the profession, the diminishing demand for the degree, the costs of education, the shifts in research and reading behavior in an online world. So is it reassuring or worrying that law schools are sharing the same pain?

Hot on the heels of this I land on a report from the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions which tackles higher education accreditation head-on. In it, the major criticisms of current accreditation models are stated (familiarly to those of us who read this type of stuff) — it doesn’t reflect quality, it stifles innovation, it’s costly, burdensome and bureaucratic etc. Their recommendations are of the kind some of us have suggested e.g., refocus on quality not compliance, allow more flexibility in review processes, etc. It’s not rocket science, but one imagines we’d never have got a rocket into space if accreditation had been applied to those engineers and scientists.

Chinese radio on reading

I had the pleasure of being interviewed on Chinese Radio International’s English language station this week. Seems there is a lot of interest there on the impact of new media on people’s reading habits and the government is concerned that the average citizen only reads five books a year. Hum….maybe we’re not so different here, though adults do report reading about 17 per year on average. The trouble with all reading estimates is that people exaggerate, since reading is such a socially-desirable behavior. It’s a bit like that with estimates of library visitations, nobody wants to give the appearance of barbarism so yes, of course we all go there regularly, right? Anyway, the interview was times to mark World Book Day, which seemed to pass most of the world by — HERE’S the link