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Georgia State professor: Retirement hastened by prospect of guns on campus

C. S. Thachenkary just retired after more than three decades as an associate professor in the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University.

He conducts research on the diffusion and adoption of emerging technologies, especially, information and telecommunication systems. His focus has been on understanding the economics of residential broadband networks and services.

In this essay, Dr. Thachenkary discusses the role a bill legalizing guns on public college campuses played in his decision to retire. He directs his comments on House Bill 859 to Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, who has expressed misgivings about campus carry but has not said whether he will veto it.

By C.S. Thachenkary

After 33 plus years teaching at Georgia State University, I retired from active service effective on Dec. 31, 2015.

A significant factor that hastened my decision was the impending House Bill 859.  As a member of the University Senate and a Chair of its Faculty Affairs and Budget Committees, I had followed the bill’s progress from its inception. I was quite certain the House would approve it in its 2016 session.

The “campus carry” bill would allow guns in classrooms but not at “athletic sporting events or student housing, including, but not limited to, fraternity and sorority houses.”

Here are some questions I’d like to raise:  After walking around campus all day with a concealed weapon, where would a student who lives on campus in a dormitory check-in his weapon for the night?  And, where would non-resident students store their guns, if not driving to or from campus?

Students will have to be 21 years or older to carry a licensed gun. However, many of our undergraduates would be under that age. Does not HB 859 put them at a safety disadvantage relative to their senior mates? Does Georgia put itself at a legal jeopardy here?

High-achieving high school students in Georgia are allowed to dual-enroll in its colleges. Who is responsible for their campus safety? Also, of young children left at campus day care facilities?

Oh, do you mind being the professor in a classroom after just returning a midterm exam? One student has failed your test, again. And this student has a history of mental illness not disclosed to you, the instructor?

Well, he’s going to be in your classroom for the rest of the semester but would now be allowed to bring a concealed weapon?  A minor inconvenience, you say? Watch what happens to grade inflation.

I personally do not believe arming students is an effective crime-fighting strategy on campus. That’s best left to our professionally trained security officers.  Our schools are designated “drug-free zones” for a reason.

Shouldn’t they be “gun-free” also?

Finally, Governor, you have hired a capable and talented team of university leaders to run our University System of Georgia. The chancellor and a number of our University presidents have expressed their objection to HB 859 and offered you valid reasons for doing so.

Your reluctance or failure to heed their advice would be tantamount to a “vote of non-confidence” in your own handpicked team


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About the Author

Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.