Inside Higher Ed is an online news source that deals with higher education. In addition to the job postings and university news items, they often publish essays and blogs from college professors about the trials and tribulations of life in academia. Yesterday they published an essay by Dr. Nate Kreuter entitled, “On Guns in My Classroom.”
What makes Dr. Kreuter’s essay particularly relevant to me is that he is an Assistant Professor of English at Western Carolina University. This is the same university at which I earned my master’s degree and at which I teach as an adjunct instructor in the College of Business.
As you can see from the photo above, WCU is nestled in a valley in the Great Smoky Mountains in a rather idyllic setting. While a bit isolated, it still can see its share of crime. There have been rapes on campus and there have been assaults. Indeed, in my university email this morning I received a notice from the University Police of a burglary of an occupied dorm room. Under North Carolina law that constitutes first-degree burglary which formerly was a capital crime.
So what is causing Dr. Kreuter to lose sleep? Is it about his effectiveness as a teacher and whether his students are actually learning? Is it about whether or not he will get tenure in a few years? Is it the fear that he won’t be able to protect his students if a mass shooter wants to perpetuate another Virginia Tech type massacre?
No. What is causing Dr. Kreuter to lose sleep and to write an angst filled essay is the mere thought that the North Carolina General Assembly might approve legislation allowing concealed carry on campus for students, staff, and faculty. Nevermind that the General Assembly has never had such a bill come before them and nevermind that it is still a felony under North Carolina law to merely even possess a firearm on campus unless you are law enforcement.
I find his whole essay ludicrous and filled full of naive delusions. What makes it even worse is that Dr. Kreuter is a gun owner and writes in this essay about going grouse hunting.
I’ve talked to some of my students at WCU about firearms and concealed carry. I don’t include it in my lectures but if someone brings it up after class I don’t shy away from the discussion. The students who brought up the topic were responsible and mature. It wasn’t like they were going to shoot me or anyone else if I gave them a bad grade.
Dr. Kreuter needs to grow up and realize that the real world can be a dangerous place. Moreover, that danger doesn’t come from a properly licensed student or faculty member who has undergone training and a background check. Unfortunately, even at Western, I fear that Dr. Kreuter has many colleauges that feel as he does and not as I do.